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VOL.  1. 





VOL.  I. 

LONDON:  '  V 




All  rights  reserved. 



IT  has  long  seemed  to  me  that  the  history 
of  the  Bronte  family  is  incomplete,  and,  in 
some  senses,  not  well  understood.  Those  who 
have  written  upon  it — as  I  shall  have  occasion 
to  point  out  iii  these  pages — have  had  certain 
objects  in  view,  which  have,  perhaps  necessarily, 
led  them  to  give  undue  weight  to  special  points 
and  to  overlook  others.  Thus  it  happens  that, 
though  there  are  in  the  hands  of  the  public- 
several  able  works  on  the  Brontes,  there  are 
many  circumstances  relating  to  them  that  are 
yet  in  comparative  obscurity.  Especially  has 
injustice  been  done  to  one  member  of  the 
family— Patrick  Bran  well  Bronte — whose  life 
has  several  times  been  treated  by  those  who 
have  had  some  other  object  in  view;  and, 
through  a  misunderstanding  of  the  character 
of  the  brother,  the  sisters,  Anne  in  particular, 
have  been  put,  in  some  respects,  in  a  false 


light  also.  This  circumstance,  coupled  with 
the  fact  that  I  am  in  possession  of  much 
new  information,  and  am  able  to  print  here 
a  considerable  quantity  of  unknown  poetry 
from  Branwell's  hand,  has  induced  me  to  write 
this  work.  Those  of  his  poems  which  are 
included  in  these  volumes  are  placed  in  deal- 
ing with  the  periods  of  his  life  in  which  they 
were  written,  for  I  felt  that,  however  great 
7night  be  the  advantages  of  putting  them  to- 
gether in  a  complete  form,  much  more  would 
be  lost  both  to  the  interest  of  the  poems 
and  the  life  of  their  '  author  in  doing  so. 
Branwell's  poems,  more,  perhaps,  than  those 
of  any  other  writer,  are  so  clearly  expressive 
of  his  feelings  at  the  time  of  their  writing, 
that  a  correct  view  of  his  character  is  only 
to  be  obtained  by  looking  upon  them  as  parts 
of  his  life-history,  which  indeed  they  are.  And, 
moreover,  when  we  consider  the  circumstances 
under  which  any  of  these  were  written,  our 
understanding  and  appreciation  of  the  subject 
must  necessarily  be  much  fuller  and  truer.  It 
has  not  escaped  the  attention  of  writers  on 
the  Bronte  story  that  Branwell  had  an  im- 

PREFACE.  vii 

portant  influence  on  his  sisters;  and,  though 
I  maintain  it  to  have  been  essentially  different 
from  what  others  allege,  it  would  not  be 
possible  to  do  justice  either  to  him  or  to 
them  without  saying  a  good  deal  about  his 

I  have  felt  it  right,  in  these  pages,  to  some 
extent  also,  to  re-consider  the  character  of  the 
Rev.  Patrick  Bronte,  which  has,  along  with 
that  of  his  son,  suffered  unfair  treatment  in 
the  biographies  of  his  daughters.  I  have  like- 
wise entered  upon  some  account  of  the  local 
circumstances  of  art  and  literature  which  sur- 
rounded the  Brontes,  an  element  in  their  history 
which  has  hitherto  been  unknown,  but  is  especi- 
ally necessary  to  a  right  understanding  of  the 
life  and  work  of  Branwell  Bronte  and  his 
sisters.  These  circumstances,  and  the  altered 
view  1  have  taken  of  the  tone  of  the  lives 
of  Mr.  Bronte  and  his  son,  have  obliged  me 
to  deal  more  fully  than  would  otherwise  have 
been  necessary  with  the  early  years  of  the 
Brontes,  but  1  venture  to  hope  that  this  may 
be  atoned  for  by  the  new  light  I  have  thus 
been  enabled  to  throw  on  some  important 

viii  PREFACE. 

points.  There  are  published  here,  for  the  first 
time,  a  series  of  letters  which  Branwell  Bronte 
addressed  to  an  intimate  friend,  J.  B.  Leyland, 
sculptor,  who  died  in  1851,  and  it  is  with 
these  that  a  fresh  insight  is  obtained  into  an 
interesting  period  of  Branwell's  life. 

I  am  largely  indebted  in  some  parts  of  my 
work,  especially  those  which  deal  with  the 
lives  of  the  sisters,  to  Mrs.  Gaskell's  fascinating 
'  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte ' ;  and  it  is  a  source 
of  sincere  regret  to  me  that  I  am  compelled 
to  differ  from  that  writer  on  many  points.  I 
am  likewise  indebted  in  parts  to  Mr.  T.  Wemyss 
Reid's  admirable  '  Charlotte  Bronte :  a  Mono- 
graph,' a  work  which  has  corrected  several 
errors  and  misconceptions  into  which  Mrs.  Gas- 
kell  had  fallen.  The  reader  will  perceive  that 
I  am  obliged  in  several  places  to  combat  the 
theories  and  question  the  statements  of  Miss 
A.  Mary  F.  Robinson  in  her  '  Emily  Bronte,' 
a  book  which,  nevertheless,  so  far  as  its  special 
subject  is  concerned,  is  a  worthy  contribution 
to  the  history  of  the  Brontes. 

I  have  also  found  of  much  use,  in  writing  this 
work,  an  article  entitled  'Branwell  Bronte,' which 


Mr.  George  Searle  Phillips — '  January  Searle' — 
published  in  the  '  Mirror'  in  1872.  The  chapter 
in  Mr.  Francis  H.  Grundy's  '  Pictures  of  the 
Past '  on  Branwell  Bronte,  has  likewise  been  of 
the  greatest  service  to  me.  Both  these  gentle- 
men were  Bran  well's  personal  friends,  .and  to 
them  I  gladly  acknowledge  my  indebtedness. 

Among  many  other  sources  of  informa- 
tion respecting  the  Brontes,  of  which  I  have 
availed  myself  in  writing  these  pages,  I  may 
mention  Hours  at  Home,  (  Unpublished  Letters 
of  Charlotte  Bronte  ' ;  Scribner,  *  Reminiscences 
of  Charlotte  Bronte ' ;  the  Athenaeum,  '  Notices 
and  Letters,'  by  Mr.  A.  C.  Swinburne,  and  '  One 
of  the  Survivors  of  the  Bronte-Bran  well  Family.' 
To  this  lady  I  must  also  express  my  obligation 
for  her  very  kind  letter  to  me. 

In  the  preparation  of  my  work  I  have  been 
greatly  assisted  by  the  information,  and  en- 
couraged by  the  sympathy,  of  several  who 
had  personal  knowledge  of  Patrick  Branwell 
Bronte,  and  who  have  supported  the  view  I 
have  taken  of  his  life  and  character,  and  also 
who  had  like  knowledge  of  the  other  members 
of  the  Bronte  family.  Among  these,  I  have 


to  express  my  sincere  thanks  to  Mr.  H.  Merrall 
and  to  Mr.  William  Wood,  who  were  early 
acquaintances  of  Brairwell ;  also  to  Mr.  William 
Dearden.  To  Mr.  J.  H.  Thompson  and  Mrs. 
Thornton  I  am  greatly  indebted  for  informa- 
tion respecting  Branwell's  sojourn  in  Bradford. 
I  have  likewise  derived  much  information  from 
the  family  of  the  Browns,  now  all  deceased, 
except  Mrs.  Brown,  to  whom  I  have  to  express 
my  obligation.  I  have  also  gained  much  re- 
liable information  from  Nancy  Garrs,  now  Mrs. 
Wainwright,  the  nurse  of  the  Brontes,  and  to 
her  I  must  especially  express  my  thanks.  To 
these,  I  must  not  omit  to  add  my  deep  and 
sincere  thanks  to  those  who  will  not  permit 
me  to  mention  them  by  name,  for  the  unwearied 
assistance,  counsel,  and  literary  judgment  which 
they  have  as  cheerfully,  as  they  have  ably, 

F.  A.  L. 


October,  1885. 





Bronte  Genius — Patrick  Bronte — His  Birthplace — His 
early  Endeavours — Ordained — Presented  to  Hartshead 
— High  Town — His  Courtship  and  Marriage — Removes 
to  Thornton — His  House — Thornton  Chapel — Mrs. 
Bronte's  failing  Health — Mr.  Bronte  Accepts  the 
Living  of  Haworth — Kudeness  of  the  Inhabitants — 
Local  Fights  between  Haworth  and  Heptonstall — 
Description  of  Haworth — Mrs.  Bronte  dies  .  1 


The  Mother  of  the  Brontes — Her  Character  and  Personal 
Appearance — Her  Literary  Taste — Penzance,  her 
Native  Place — Description  of  Penzance — The  Bran- 
well  Family — Personal  Traits  of  Maria  Branwell — 
Her  Virtues — Her  Letters  to  Mr.  Bronte— Her 
Domestic  Experiences  .....  133 


Character  of  the  Rev.  P.  Bronte— Charges  against  Him— 
Serious  Allegations  of  Biographers— Injustice  of  the 
Charges— Mr.  Bronte's  indignant  Denial  of  the  Im- 
putations—Testimony of  Nancy  Garrs— Mrs.  Bronte 
and  the  Silk-Dress  Episode— Mr.  Bronte,  the  sup- 
posed Prototype  of  Mr.  Helstone — The  Pistol-shots 
Theory — Mr.  Bronte  on  Science  Knowledge — Miss 
Branwell  .  .  ' 41 


Girlhood — Gravity  of  Character — Charlotte's  Description 
of  the  Elf-land  of  Childhood— The  Still  and  Solemn 
Moors  of  Haworth  influence  their  Writings — The 
Present  of  Toys — The  Plays  which  they  Acted — 
Mr.  Bronte  on  a  Supposed  Earthquake — The  Evi- 
dence of  his  Care  for  his  Children — Grammar  School 
at  Haworth— His  Children  under  the  Tuition  of  the 
Master — The  Character  of  the  School — Cowan-Bridge 
School — Charlotte's  View  of  Mr.  Cams  Wilson's 
Management — Deaths  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth  .  57 


Reunion  of  the  Bronte  Family — Branwell  is  the  supposed 
Prototype  of  Victor  Crimsworth — That  Character 
not  a  complete  Portrait  of  Branwell — His  Friendships 
— His  Visit  to  the  Keighley  Feast — Its  Effect  on 
Branwell's  Nerves — The  Wrestle — The  Lost  Spec- 
tacles— Fear  of  his  Father's  Displeasure — Mrs.  Gas- 
kell's  Story  of  the  '  Black  Bull '  Incident  Questioned 
— Miss  Branwell  and  her  Nephew  ...  81 



The  youthful  Compositions  of  the  Brontes — Their  Charac- 
ter— BranwelTa  Share  in  them — '  The  Secret,'  a  Frag- 
ment— The  Reading  of  the  Bronte  Children — Bran- 
well's  Character  at  this  Period  ....  93 


Charlotte  goes  to  Roe  Head — Return  Home — Bramvell  at 
the  Time — The  Companion  of  his  Sisters — Escorts 
Charlotte  on  a  Visit — He  becomes  Interested  in 
Pugilism — His  Education — His  Love  for  Music — His 
Retentive  Memory — His  Personal  Appearance — His 
Spirit 109 


Love  of  Art  in  the  Youthful  Brontes — Their  elaborate 
Drawings — J.  B.  Leyland,  Sculptor — Spartacus — Mr. 
George  Hogarth's  Opinion — Art  Exhibition  at  Leeds 
—  Mr.  William  Robinson,  their  Drawing-Master — 
Bramvell  aims  at  Portrait-Painting — J.  B.  Leyland  in 
London — Branwell  and  the  Royal  Academy—  He 
visits  London 123 


Charlotte  re  turns  as  a  Teacher,  with  Emily  as  a  Pupil,  to  Roe 
Head — Their  Determination  to  Maintain  themselves 
— Charlotte's  Fears  respecting  Emily — Charlotte's  re- 
ligious Melancholy — Accuses  herself  of  Flippancy — 
She  is  on  the  Borders  of  Despair — Anxiety  to  Know 
more  of  the  World — Emily  at  Law  Hill,  Halifax,  as  a 
Teacher — Charlotte's  Excitability — She  returns  Home 
out  of  Health  147 



The  Light  in  which  Biographers  have  regarded  Branwell — 
Bibliography — Mrs.  Gaskell — The  Causes  which  led  her 
into  Error — Resentment  of  Branwell's  Friends — Mr. 
George  Searle  Phillips — Branwell  as  Depicted  by  Mr.T. 
Wemyss  Reid — Mr.  F.  H.  Grundy's  Notice  of  Branwell 
— Miss  A.  Mary  F.  Robinson's  Portrait  of  Branwell, 



Branwell  becomes  a  Freemason — His  love  of  Art  undi- 
minished — Has  Instruction  in  Oil-Painting — Com- 
mences Portrait-Painting  at  Bradford — His  Com- 
missions —His  Letter  to  Mr.  Thompson,  the  Artist — 
Miss  Robinson's  Charges  of  Misconduct — Her  Er- 
roneous Statements — Branwell's  true  Character  and 
Conduct  at  Bradford — Remarks  on  his  alleged  Opium- 
eating  there  .......  172 


New  Inspiration  of  Poetry— Wordsworth— Southey,  Scott, 
and  Byron— Southey  to  Charlotte  Bronte— Hartley 
Coleridge— His  Worthies  of  Yorkshire— Poets  of  the 
West-Riding— Alaric  A.  Watts— Branwell's  Literary 
Abilities .  134 


Branwell's  Letter  to  Wordsworth,  with  Stanzas — Remarks 
upon  it— No  Reply— He  Tries  Again— His  Interest 
in  the  Manchester  and  Leeds  Railway— Branwell's 
Literary  and  Artistic  Friends  at  Bradford  and  Halifax 


— Leyland's  Works  there — Bramvell's  great  Interest 
in  them — Early  Verses — Mrs.  Gaskell's  Judgment  on 
his  Literary  Abilities  .  .  .  .  .  193 


The  Poetical  bent  of  Branwell's  Genius — '  Caroline's 
Prayer ' — '  On  Caroline  ' — '  Caroline ' — Spirit  of  these 
Early  Effusions 210 


Charlotte's  first  Offer  of  Marriage — Her  Remarks  concern- 
ing it— A  second  Offer  Declined — Anne  a  Governess 
— She  Moralizes  upon  it — Charlotte  obtains  a  Situa- 
tion— Unsuited  to  Her — She  Leaves  it — Branwell 
takes  Pleasure  in  Scenery — He  Visits  Liverpool  with 
his  Friends — Charlotte  goes  to  Easton — Curates  at 
Haworth — Their  Visits  to  the  Parsonage — Public 
Meetings  on  Church  Rates — Charlotte's  Attempt  at  a 
Richardsonian  Novel — She  sends  the  Commencement 
of  it  to  Wordsworth  for  his  Opinion — Branwell  re- 
ceives an  Appointment  as  Private  Tutor  .  228 


The  District  of  Black  Comb — Branwell's  Sonnet — Words- 
worth and  Hartley  Coleridge — Branwell's  Letter  to 
the  '  Old  Knave  of  Trumps ' — Its  Publication  by 
Miss  Robinson  in  her  '  Emily  Bronte ' — Branwell's 
familiar  Acquaintance  with  the  People  of  Haworth 
— He  could  Paint  their  Characters  with  Accuracy — 
His  Knowledge  of  the  Human  Passions — Emily's 
Isolation  219 



Branwell's  Appointment  at  Ulverston  ends — He  gets  a 
Situation  on  the  Railroad  at  Sowerby  Bridge — Bran- 
well  at  Luddenden  Foot — His  Friends'  Reminiscences 
of  him — Charlotte  and  Emily  reading  French  Novels — 
Charlotte  obtains  a  Situation — Anxious  about  Anne — 
School  Project  of  the  Sisters — Charlotte's  keen  Desire 
to  visit  Brussels — Her  Letter  to  her  Aunt  Branwell, 



Situation  of  Luddenden  Foot — Branwell  visits  Manchester 
— The  Sultry  Summer — He  visits  the  Picturesque 
Places  adjacent — His  impromptu  Verses  to  Mr.  Grun- 
dy — He  leaves  the  Railway  Company — Miss  Robin- 
son's unjust  Comments — His  three  Sonnets — His  poem, 
'  The  Afghan  War  ' — Branwell's  letter  to  Mr.  Grundy 
— His  Self-depreciation 287 




Bronte  Genius — Patrick  Bronte — His  "Birthplace — His 
early  Endeavours — Ordained — Presented  to  Hartshead 
— High  Town — His  Courtship  and  Marriage — Removes 
to  Thornton — His  House — Thornton  Chapel — Mrs. 
Bronte's  failing  Health — Mr.  Bronte'  Accepts  the 
Laving  of  Haworth — Rudeness  of  the  Inhabitants — 
Local  Fights  between  Haworth  and  Heptonstall — 
Description  of  Haworth — Mrs.  Bronte  dies. 

NOT  many  stories  of  literary  success  have  at- 
tracted so  much  interest,  and  are  in  themselves 
so  curious  and  enthralling,  as  that  of  the  Bronte 
sisters.  The  question  has  often  been  asked  how 
it  came  about  that  these  children,  who  were 
brought  up  in  distant  solitude,  and  cut  off,  in  a 
manner,  from  intellectual  life,  who  had  but  a 
partial  opportunity  of  studying  mankind,  and 
VOL.  I.  B 


scarcely  any  knowledge  of  the  ways  of  the  out- 
side world,  were  enabled,  with  searching  hands, 
to  dissect  the  finest  meshes  of  the  passions,  to 
hold  up  in  the  clearest  light  the  springs  of 
human  action,  and  to  depict,  with  nervous 
power,  the  most  masculine  and  forcible  aspects 
of  character.  The  solution  has  been  sought  in 
the  initiatory  strength  and  inherent  mental  dis- 
position of  the  sisters,  framed  and  moulded  by 
the  weird  and  rugged  surroundings  of  their 
youth,  and  tinged  with  lurid  light  and  vivid 
feeling  by  the  misfortunes  and  sins  of  their  un- 
happy brother.  To  illustrate  these  several 
points,  the  biographers  of  Charlotte  and  Emily 
Bronte  have  explained,  as  the  matter  admitted 
of  explanation,  the  intellectual  beginnings  and 
capability  of  the  sisters,  have  painted  in  sombre 
colours  the  story  of  their  friendless  childhood, 
and  lastly,  with  no  lack  of  honest  condemnation, 
have  told  us  as  much  as  they  knew  of  the  sad 
history  of  Patrick  Bran  well  Bronte,  their  brother. 
It  is  a  curious  fact  that  this  brother,  who  was 
looked  upon  by  his  family  as  its  brightest  orna- 
ment and  hope,  should  be  named  in  these  days 
only  in  connection  with  his  sisters,  and  then  but 


with  apology,  condemnation,  or  reproach.  In 
the  course  of  this  work,  in  which  Bran  well 
Bronte  will  be  traced  from  his  parentage  to  his 
death,  we  shall  find  the  explanation  of  .this  cir- 
cumstance ;  but  we  shall  find,  also,  that,  despite 
his  failings  and  his  sins,  his  intellectual  gifts,  as 
they  are  testified  by  his  literary  promise  and  his 
remains,  entitle  him  to  a  high  place  as  a  worthy 
member  of  that  extraordinary  family.  It  will 
be  seen,  moreover,  that  his  influence  upon  Char- 
lotte, Emily,  and  Anne  was  not  what  has  been 
generally  supposed,  and  that  other  circum- 
stances, besides  their  own  domestic  troubles, 
inspired  them  to  write  their  masterpieces. 

The  father  of  these  gifted  authors,  Patrick 
Bronte,  whose  life  and  personal  characteristics 
well  deserve  study,  was  a  native  of  the  county 
Down.  He  was  born  on  St.  Patrick's  Day,  1777  ; 
and,  after  an  infancy  passed  at  the  house  of  his 
father,  Hugh  Bronte,  or  Brunty,  at  Ahaderg — 
one  of  the  ten  children  who  made  a  noisy 
throng  in  the  home  of  his  parents — he  opened,  at 
the  age  of  sixteen,  a  village  school  at  Drumgoo- 
land,  in  the  same  county.  In  this  occupation 
he  continued  after  he  had  attained  his  majority, 

B  2 


and  was  never  a  tutor,  as  Mrs.  Gaskell  supposes  j 
but,  being  ambitious  of  a  clerical  life,  through 
the  assistance  of  his  patron,  Mr.  Tighe,  incum- 
bent of  Drumgooland  and  Drumballyroony,  in 
the  county  of  Down,  he  was  admitted  to  St. 
John's  College,  Cambridge,  on  the  1st  of  October 
in  the  year  1802,  when  he  had  attained  his 
twenty-fifth  year.  At  Cambridge  we  may  in- 
fer that  he  led  an  active  life.  It  is  known 
that  he  joined  a  volunteer  corps  raised  to  be  in 
readiness  for  the  French  invasion,  threatened  at 
the  time.  After  a  four  years'  sojourn  at  his  col- 
lege, having  graduated  as  a  bachelor  of  arts, 
in  the  year  1806,  he  was  ordained,  and  appoint- 
ed to  a  curacy  in  Essex,  where  he  is  said  not  to 
have  stayed  long. 

The  perpetual  curacy  of  Hartshead,  in  the 
West  Riding  of  Yorkshire,  having  become  va- 
cant, Mr.  Bronte  received  the  appointment,  on 
the  presentation  of  the  vicar  of  Dewsbury. 

The  church  of  St.  Peter,  at  Hartshead — which 
has  extensive  remains  of  Norman  work,  and  has 
recently  been  restored — is  situated  on  an  emi- 
nence about  a  mile  from  the  actual  hamlet  of 
that  name ;  and,  with  its  broad,  low,  and  mas- 


•sive  tower,  and  its  grim  old  yew-tree,  forms  a 
conspicuous  object  for  miles  around,  command- 
ing on  all  sides  extensive  and  magnificent 
views  of  the  valleys  of  Calder  and  Colne,  with 
their  wooded  slopes,  and  pleasant  farms,  and 
the  busy  villages  nestling  in  the  hollows.  At 
the  foot  of  the  hill,  the  deep  and  sombre  woods 
of  Kirklees  hide  the  almost  indistinguishable 
remains  of  the  convent,  founded  by  Raynerus 
Flandrensis,  in  the  reign  of  Henry  II.,  for  nuns 
of  the  order  of  Citeaux. 

There  are  interesting  circumstances  and  evi- 
dences concerning  Kirklees,  its  Roman  entrench- 
ments being  very  distinct  within  the  park  which 
overlooks  the  Calder  at  this  point.  The  priory, 
too,  has  its  curious  history  of  the  events  which 
attended  the  cloistered  life  of  Elizabeth  de 
Stainton,  one  of  the  prioresses,  whose  monu- 
mental memorial  alone  remains  of  all  that 
marked  the  graves  of  the  religious  of  that  house ; 
and  there  are  stories  relating  to  Robin  Hood. 
Here  still  exists  the  chamber  in  which  tradition 
says  the  '  noble  outlaw '  died,  and  also  the  grave, 
at  a  cross-bow  shot  from  it,  where  long  genera- 
tions of  men  have  averred  his  dust  reposes.  The 


district  of  Kirklees  had  an  interest  for  Charlotte- 
Bronte,  and  she  has  celebrated  it  in  '  Shirley,' 
under  the  name  of  Nunnely,  with  its  old  church, 
its  forest,  its  monastic  ruins,  and  '  its  man  of 
title — its  baronet.'  It  was  to  the  house  of  the 
latter — kind  gentleman  though  he  was — that 
Louis  Moore  could  not  go,  where  he  '  would 
much  sooner  have  made  an  appointment  with 
the  ghost  of  the  Earl  of  Huntingdon  to  meet 
him,  and  a  shadowy  ring  of  his  merry  men, 
under  the  canopy  of  the  thickest,  blackest,  oldest 
oak  in  Nunnely  Forest  .  .  .  would  rather  have 
appointed  tryst  with  a  phantom  abbess,  or  mist- 
pale  nun,  among  the  wet  and  weedy  relics  of 
that  ruined  sanctuary  of  theirs,  mouldering  in 
the  core  of  the  wood.' 

Mr.  Bronte  entered  upon  his  ministrations  at 
Hartshead  in  the  year  181.1 ;  and  there  are 
entries  in  the  churchwarden's  book  of  Easter- 
dues  paid  to  him  up  to  1815.  It  is  curious 
to  note  that,  in  this  early  mention  of  Mr. 
Bronte,  the  name  is  spelled  '  Brunty '  and 
4  Bronty.' 

Hartshead  being  destitute  of  a  glebe  house, 
and  no  suitable  residence  existing  either  at  this- 
place  or  at  the  neighbouring  village  of  Clifton 


at  the  time,  Mr.  Bronte  took  up  his  residence  at 
High  Town,  in  a  roomy  and  pleasant  house  at 
the  top  of  Clough  Lane,  near  Liversedge  in  the 
parish  of  Birstall,  and  about  a  mile  from  the 
place  of  his  cure.  The  house,  which  commands 
beautiful  views,  is  entered  by  a  passage  of  the 
ordinary  width,  on  the  left  of  which  is  the  draw- 
ing-room, having  cross-beams  ornamented  with 
plaster  mouldings,  as  when  first  finished.  On 
the  right  of  the  passage  is  the  dining-room. 
The  breakfast-room  and  kitchen  are  behind 
them.  The  house  is  three  stories  in  height,  and 
stands  back  about  two  yards  from  the  road,  which 
points  direct  to  the  now  populous  towns  of 
Liversedge  and  Cleckheaton,  both  places  of 
considerable  antiquity,  whose  inhabitants,  em- 
ployed in  various  manufacturies,  were  increasing 
in  Mr.  Bronte's  time. 

Finding  himself  now  in  possession  of  a  com- 
petent income  and  a  goodly  residence,  he  felt 
relieved  from  those  anxieties  which,  in  all  pro- 
bability, had  attended  his  early  struggles  ;  and, 
resting  awhile  in  his  ambition,  he  turned  in 
peace  and  contentment  to  poetical  meditation. 
His  first  book  was  called  'Cottage  Poems,'  on  the 
title-page  of  which  he  describes  himself  as  the 


'  Reverend  Patrick  Bronte,  B.A.,  minister  of 
Hartskead-cum-Clifton.'  This  book  was  pub- 
lished at  Halifax  in  the  year  1811.  The 
following  are  a  few  of  its  subjects  :  '  The  Happy 
Cottagers,'  'The  Rainbow/  'Winter  Nights' 
Meditations,'  'Verses  sent  to  a  Lady  on  her 
Birthday,'  '  The  Cottage  Maid,'  an^  '  The  Spider 
and  the  Fly.'  Mr.  Bronte  thus  speaks  of  himself 
and  his  work  :  '  When  relieved  from  clerical 
avocations  he  was  occupied  in  writing  the 
"  Cottage  Poems  ;"  from  morning  till  noon,  and 
from  noon  till  night,  his  employment  was  full 
of  indescribable  pleasure,  such  as  he  could  wish 
to  taste  as  long  as  life  lasts.  His  hours  glided 
pleasantly  and  almost  imperceptibly  by,  and 
when  night  drew  on,  and  he  retired  to  rest,  ere 
his  eyes  closed  in  sleep  witfh  sweet  calmness  and 
serenity  of  mind,  he  often  reflected  that,  though 
the  delicate  palate  of  criticism  might  be  dis- 
gusted, the  business  of  the  day  in  the  prosecu- 
tion of  his  humble  task  was  well-pleasing  in  the 
sight  of  God,  and  by  His  blessing  might  be 
rendered  useful  to  some  poor  soul  who  cared 
little  about  critical  niceties.'  Throughout  he 
professes  to  be  indifferent  to  hostile  criticism. 


It  is  pleasant  to  find  that  Mr.  Bronte,  although 
settled  in  competence  in  a  picturesque  part  of 
England,  was  not  forgetful  of  his  parents  or  of 
the  land  of  his  birth.  So  long  as  his  mother 
lived  he  sent  her  twenty  pounds  a  year ;  and, 
though  we  have  no  record  of  the  occasion,  we 
may  safely  infer  that  he  found  opportunity  to 
visit  Ireland  again.  He  maintained  his  connec- 
tion with  the  district  of  his  early  life ;  and,  in 
after  years,  he  appointed  a  relative  of  Mr.  Tighe 
to  be  his  own  curate.  One  of  his  'Cottage 
Poems '  is  entitled  '  The  Irish  Cabin,'  a  verse  or 
two  from  which  may  here  be  given  : — 

'  Should  poverty,  modest  and  clean, 

E'er  please  when  presented  to  view, 
Should  cabin  on  brown  heath  or  green, 

Disclose  aught  engaging  to  you ; 
Should  Erin's  wild  harp  soothe  the  ear, 

When  touched  by  such  fingers  as  mine, 
Then  kindly  attentive  draw  near, 

And  candidly  ponder  each  line.' 

He  describes  a  winter-scene  on  the  mountains 
of  Morne — a  high  range  of  hills  in  the  north  of 
Ireland — and  thus  alludes  to  his  hospitable  re- 
ception in  the  clean  and  industrious  cabin  of  his 
verses: — 


'  Escaped  from  the  pitiless  storm, 

I  entered  the  humble  retreat ; 
Compact  was  the  building,  and  warm, 

In  furniture  simple  and  neat. 
And  now,  gentle  reader,  approve 

The  ardour  that  glowed  in  each  breast, 
As  kindly  our  cottagers  strove 

To  cherish  and  welcome  their  guest.' 

It  is  unnecessary  to  give  in  this  place  further 
extracts  from  this  book ;  suffice  it  to  say  that, 
in  all  probability,  Mr.  Bronte  lived  to  see  the 
day  when  he  was  pained  and  surprised  that  he 
had  ever  committed  it  to  the  press. 

Although  the  poems  of  Mr.  Bronte  are  inspired 
by  the  love  of  a  peaceful  and  contented  life, 
free  from  excitement  and  care,  yet  in  times  of 
trouble  and  emergency,  such  as  those  of  the 
Luddite  riots  which  occurred  during  the  period 
of  his  ministration  at  Hartshead,  he  showed 
again  the  active  and  resolute  spirit  which  had 
prompted  and  sustained  the  efforts  of  his  early 
ambition ;  and  his  ardour  in  helping  to  suppress 
the  turbulent  spirit  of  the  neighbourhood  would 
have  made  him  very  unpopular  with  the  dis- 
affected people,  had  they  not  learned  to  respect 
the  upright  and  unfailing  rectitude  of  his 


conduct.  In  the  energetic  character  of  Mr. 
Bronte's  life  in  these  early  times,  in  his  persist- 
ent ambition,  and  in  the  literary  pursuits  which 
clearly  were  dear  to  him,  we  may  trace  those 
factors  of  working  power  and  literary  aspira- 
tion and  taste  which  made  up  the  characteristic 
intellectual  force  of  his  children. 

Mrs.  Gaskell,  in  her  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,' 
has  given  some  of  the  particulars  of  the  Reverend 
Mr.  Bronte's  courtship  and  marriage,  in  which 
she  appears  to  have  taken  a  lively  interest. 

Mr.  Bronte  met  his  future  wife,  (Miss  Maria 
Branwell — of  whose  character  I  shall  speak  in 
the  next  chapter — the  third  daughter  of  Mr.  T. 
Brauwell  of  Penzance,  deceased)  for  the  first 
time  about  the  summer  of  1812,  when  she  was 
on  a  visit  to  her  uncle,  the  Rev.  John  Fennel, 
a  Methodist  minister  and  head-master  of  the 
Wesleyan  Academy  at  Woodhouse  Grove,  near 
Bradford,  but  who  became  later  a  clergyman  of 
the  Establishment,  and  was  made  incumbent 
of  Cross-stone,  in  the  parish  of  Halifax.  This 
meeting  was  soon  followed  by  an  engagement,, 
and,  says  Mrs.  Gaskell,  there  were  plans  for  happy 
picnic-parties  to  Kirkstall  Abbey  in  the  glowing 


September  days,  when  '  Uncle,  Aunt,  and  Cousin 
Jane ' — the  last  engaged  to  a  Mr.  Morgar, 
another  clergyman — were  of  the  party. 

In  the  account  which  Mr.  Bronte  gives  of  the 
aim  and  scope  of  the  work  from  which  I  have 
made  an  extract,  and  the  state  of  his  mind  while 
engaged  upon  it,  we  have  a  retrospect  of  the 
inner  life  of  the  father  of  the  Brontes,  during 
his  sojourn  at  Hartshead  as  perpetual  curate, 
prior  to  his  marriage  with  Miss  Branwell.  In 
this  period  of  his  life,  he  seems  to  have  been 
perfectly  happy,  no  cloud  or  anticipation  of 
future  sorrow  having  obscured  or  diminished  the 
fulness  of  his  peace.  The  marriage  was  cele- 
brated on  the  29th  of  December,  1812,  at  Guise- 
ley,  near  Bradford,  by  the  Rev.  W.  Morgan, 
minister  of  Bierley,  the  gentleman  engaged  to 
'Cousin  Jane.'  It  is  a  very  curious  circumstance 
that  on  the  same  day,  and  at  the  same  place, 
Mr.  Bronte  performed  the  marriage  ceremony 
between  his  wife's  cousin,  Miss  Jane  Fennel,  only 
daughter  of  the  Mr.  Fennel  alluded  to  above, 
a,nd  the  Rev.  W.  Morgan,  who  had  just  been,  as 
described,  the  officiating  clergyman  at  his  own 


Mr.  Fennel  would  naturally  have  performed 
the  ceremony  for  his  niece  and  Mr.  Bronte, 
had  it  not  fallen  to  his  lot  to  give  the  lady 

When  Mr.  Bronte  found  himself  settled  in 
married  life  at  Hartshead,  and  with  the  proba- 
bility of  a  young  family  rising  around  him,  he 
felt  pleasure  in  the  contemplation  of  the  future. 
Mrs.  Bronte,  ever  gentle  and  affectionate  in  her 
household  ways,  comforted  and  encouraged  him 
in  his  literary  pursuits,  and,  by  her  acute  observa- 
tion and  accurate  judgment,  directed  and  aided 
his  own.  It  was  at  this  time  that  Mr.  Bronte 
wrote  a  book,  entitled  '  The  Rural  Ministry,' 
which  was  published  at  Halifax,  in  1813.  The 
work  consisted  of  a  miscellany  of  descriptive 
poems,  with  the  following  titles  :  '  The  Sabbath 
Bells,'  '  Kirkstall  Abbey,'  '  Extempore  Verses,' 
'  Lines  to  a  Lady  on  her  Birthday,'  '  An  Elegy,' 
'  Reflections  by  Moonlight,'  '  Winter,'  '  Rural 
Happiness,'  '  The  Distress  and  Relief/  '  The 
Christian's  Farewell,'  *  The  Harper  of  Erin.'  It 
cannot  be  doubted  that,  in  consequence  of  his 
two  publications  while  he  was  at  Hartshead, 
Mr.  Bronte  became  known  in  the  surrounding 


districts  as  an  aspiring  man,  and  one  of  literary 
culture  and  ability. 

Mr.  Bronte  had  taken  his  bride  to  his  house  at 
High  Town,  and  it  was  there  that  his  daughters 
Maria  and  Elizabeth  were  born.  Maria  was 
baptized  on  April  the  23rd,  1814,  and  is  entered 
in  the  register  as  the  'daughter  of  Patrick  Bronte 
and  Maria  his  wife.'  The  Rev.  Mr.  Morgan  was 
the  officiating  minister.  There  is  no  such  entry 
there  relating  to  Elizabeth,  for  she  was  baptized 
at  Thornton  with  the  other  children. 

Mr.  Bronte,  after  having  been  nearly  five 
years  minister  of  Hartshead-cum-Clifton,  resigned 
the  benefice,  and  accepted,  from  the  vicar  of 
Bradford,  the  incumbency  of  Thornton,  a  per- 
petual curacy  in  that  parish.  This,  probably, 
on  the  suggestion  of  Mr.  Morgan,  who  was  then 
incumbent  of  Christ's  Church  at  Bradford. 

Thornton  is  beautifully  situated  on  the 
northern  slope  of  a  valley.  Green  and  fertile 
pastures  spread  over  the  adjacent  hills,  and 
wooded  dells  with  shady  walks  beautify  and 
enrich  the  district.  «  The  neighbourhood,'  says 
Mrs.  Gaskell,  '  is  desolate  and  wild  ;  great  tracts 
of  bleak  land,  enclosed  by  stone  dykes,  sweeping 


up  Clayton  Heights.'  This  disagreeable  picture 
of  the  place,  painted  by  the  biographer  of  Char- 
lotte, is  scarcely  justified  by  the  actual  appear- 
ance of  the  district.  The  soil  is  naturally  fertile, 
and  the  inhabitants  are  notable  for  industry  and 
enterprise.  Hence  no  barren  land,  within  the 
wide  range  of  hill  and  vale,  is  now  seen  obtruding 
on  the  cultivated  sweep. 

The  town  is  somewhat  regularly  built.  In  the 
main  street  is  situated  the  house  where  Mr. 
Bronte  took  up  his  abode  during  his  stay  at 
Thornton.  The  hall  door  was  reached  by  several 
steps.  There  was  a  dining-room  on  one  side  of 
the  hall,  and  a  drawing-room  on  the  other.  Over 
the  passage  to  the  front  was  a  dressing-room, 
at  the  window  of  which  the  neighbours  often 
saw  Mr.  Bronte  at  his  toilet.  Above  the  door  of 
the  house,  on  a  stone  slab,  there  are  still  visible 
the  letters : 


J.  S. 


These  are  the  initials  of  John  and  Sarah  Ash- 
worth,  former  inhabitants  of  Thornton;  and  this 
residence  remained  as  the  parsonage  until 


another  was  built  below,  nearer  to  the  chapel, 
by  the  successor  of  Mr.  Bronte. 

The  chapel  of  Thornton  is  a  narrow,  con- 
tracted, and  unsightly  building.  The  north  side 
is  lighted  by  two  rows  of  square  cottage  windows 
— on  the  south  side,  five  late  perpendicular 
pointed  windows  permit  the  sun  to  relieve  the 
gloom  of  the  interior. 

The  diminutive  communion-table  is  lighted  by 
a  four-mullioned  window,  above  which,  exter- 
nally, in  the  wall,  appears  the  date  1620.  The 
interior  is  blocked,  on  the  ground  floor,  with 
high-backed,  unpainted  deal  pews.  Two  galleries 
hide  the  windows  almost  from  view,  and  cast  a 
gloom  over  the  interior  of  the  edifice.  The  area 
under  the  pews,  and  in  the  aisles,  is  paved  with 
gravestones,  and  a  fetid,  musty  smell  floats 
through  the  damp  and  mouldering  interior.  In 
this  chapel,  Mr.  Bronte  preached  and  ministered, 
and  from  the  pulpit,  placed  high  above  the 
curate  and  clerk,  whence  he  delivered  his  ser- 
mons, he  could  see  his  wife  and  children  in  a 
pew  just  below  him. 

The  new  incumbent  of  Thornton  seems  to 
have  taken  active  interest  in  his  chapel ;  for  in 


the  western  screen,  which  divides  a  kind  of  lobby 
from  the  nave,  is  painted,  on  a  wooden  tablet, 
an  inscription  recording  that  in  the  year  1818 
this  chapel  was  'Repaired  and  Beautified,'  the 
Rev.  Patrick  Bronte,  B.A.,  being  then  minister. 

While  at  Thornton  Mr.  Bronte  steadily  pursued 
his  literary  avocations,  one  of  his  books  being  a 
small  volume  entitled,  '  The  Cottage  in  the  Wood, 
or  the  Art  of  becoming  Rich  and  Happy.'  This 
is  an  account  of  a  pious  family,  consisting  of  an 
aged  couple  and  a  virtuous  child,  whose  appear- 
ance and  education  qualify  her  for  a  higher 
position  in  the  world  than  that  of  a  cottager's 
daughter.  Accident  brings  to  their  door  a  young 
man  in  a  state  of  almost  helpless  drunkenness, 
whose  habits  are  the  most  profligate  and  dissolute, 
as  the  sequel  discloses;  and  the  object  of  the 
book  is  to  show  the  dire  consequences  of  con- 
tinued intemperance.  The  story  is  told  in  prose, 
but  Mr.  Bronte  gives  a  poetical  version  of  one 
event  in  the  narrative.  It  is  entitled,  '  The 
Nightly  Revel,'  and  possesses  a  dignity  of  its 
own.  The  following  extract  shows  considerable 
improvement,  in  diction  and  verse,  upon  the  style 
of  his  small  volume  published  at  Halifax,  in  1811. 
VOL.  I.  C 


For  this  reason  it  is  well  worth  reproducing. 

'  Around  the  table  polish'd  goblets  shine, 
FilM  with  brown  ale,  or  crown'd  with  ruddy  wine  ; 
Each  quaffs  his  glass,  and,  thirsty,  calls  for  more, 
Till  maddening  mirth,  and  song,  and  wild  uproar, 
And  idly  fierce  dispute,  and  brutal  fight 
Break  the  soft  slumbers  of  the  peaceful  night. 

'  Without,  within,  above,  beneath,  around, 
Ungodly  jests  and  deep-mouthed  oaths  resound  ; 
Pale  Reason,  trembling,  leaves  her  reeling  throne, 
Truth,  Honour,  Virtue,  Justice,  all  are  flown ; 
The  sly,  dark -glancing  harlot's  fatal  breath 
Allures  to  sin  and  sorrow,  shame  and  death. 
The  gaming-table,  too,  that  fatal  snare, 
Beset  with  fiercest  passions  fell  is  there  ; 
Remorse,  despair,  revenge,  and  deadly  hate, 
With  dark  design,  in  bitter  durance  wait, 
Till  SCARLET  MURDER  waves  his  bloody  hand, 
Gives  in  sepulchral  tone  the  dread  command  ; 
Then  forth  they  rush,  and  from  the  secret  sheath 
Draw  the  keen  blade  and  do  the  work  of  death.' 

Mr.  Bronte  also,  in  1818,  before  his  appoint- 
ment to  Haworth,  published  his  '  Maid  of  Killar- 
ney.'  He  had  not  been  long  at  Thornton,  where 
he  went  about  the  year  1815,  when  a  considerable 
increase  in  his  family  added  to  his  parental 

On  his  acceptance  of  the  living,  he  probably 
enjoyed  a  larger  stipend  than  at  Hartshead,  but 


the  demands  of  a  young  family,  perhaps,  on  the 
whole,  made  him  a  poorer  man.  There  Charlotte 
Bronte  was  born  in  April,  1816  ;  Patrick  Bran- 
well  Bronte  in  .1817;  Emily  Jane  Bronte  in 
1818  ;  and  Anne  Bronte  probably  just  before 
Mr.  Bronte's  removal  to  Haworth,  which  was 
on  February  25th,  1820,  as  we  are  told  by  Mrs. 

Of  the  life  of  the  Brontes  at  Thornton  we 
know  little.  But  there  were  causes  of  anxiety 
pressing  on  Mr.  Bronte  at  the  time.  The  state 
of  his  wife's  health  was  a  real  sorrow,  and  al- 
though he  derived  solace  from  his  literary  pur- 
suits and  the  society  of  his  clerical  friends,  his 
spirits  were  damped  by  the  contemplation  of 
the  season  of  bereavement  and  affliction  that 
assuredly  threatened  him  at  no  distant  date. 

With  six  young  children,  who  might  soon 
become  motherless,  Mr.  Bronte's  future  was 
dark  and  discouraging,  and  he  entertained  the 
idea  of  resigning,  at  no  distant  day,  the  then 
place  of  his  cure.  Here,  living  within  a 
reasonable  distance  of  Bradford,  he  had  an 
opportunity  of  moving  in  a  larger  circle  of 
friends  than  at  Hartshead,  and  it  was  here  that 



his  children  received  their  earliest  impressions 
of  local  life  and  character.  Old  inhabitants  of 
Thornton  remembered  them  playing  in  the 
space  opposite  their  father's  residence,  in  the 
village  street,  and  had  often  seen  them  carried, 
or  their  parents  lead  them  by  the  hand,  in  the 
lanes  of  the  neighbourhood.  They  were  children 
only  when  they  left  Thornton ;  yet,  on  many 
grounds,  the  inhabitants  of  that  village  may 
feel  privileged  that  it  was  the  birthplace  of  the 
authors  of  *  Jane  Eyre,'  '  Wuthering  Heights,' 
and  '  The  Tenant  of  Wildfell  Hall.' 

Shortly  an  opportunity  presented  itself  to  Mr. 
Bronte  for  leaving  Thornton,  a  vacancy  having 
taken  place  at  Haworth  through  the  death  of 
the  curate,  Mr.  Charnock.  The  situation  of  this 
chapelry  was  blessed  with  a  more  bracing  air, 
and  the  curate  had  a  somewhat  better  stipend 
than  Thornton  allowed,  and  so  Mr.  Bronte  ac- 
cepted the  presentation  from  the  patron.  We 
are  .informed,  however,  that,  on  visiting  the 
place  of  his  intended  ministrations,  he  was  told 
that  while  to  him  personally  the  parishioners 
had  no  objection,  yet,  as  the  nominee  of  the 
vicar  of  Bradford,  he  would  not  be  received. 


He  bad  no  idea  that  the  inhabitants  bad  a  veto 
in  the  appointment. 

On  Mr.  Bronte  declaring  that,  it'  he  had  not 
the  good-will  of  the  inhabitants,  his  ministra- 
tions would  be  useless,  the  place  was  presented 
to  Mr.  Redhead  by  the  patron,  and  the  village 
seems  to  have  become  the  scene  of  extraordi- 
nary proceedings.     It  appears   that,  after   the 
Reformation,  the  presentation  to  the  curacy  of 
Haworth,  which  had  been  from  time  immemorial 
vested  in  the  vicar  of  Bradford,  had  become 
subject  to  the  control  of  the  freeholders,  and  of 
certain    trustees   who   held    possession   of    the 
principal  funds  from  which  the  stipend  of  the 
curate  proceeded,  which  they  could  withhold, 
by    virtue    of    an    authority    they    appear    to 
have    been    empowered   with.     In  effect,   they 
could  at  any  time  disallow  or  render  void  an 
appointment,  if  disagreeable  to  themselves,  by 
keeping  back  the  stipend.     Mr.  Bronte,  writing 
later  of  Mr.  Redhead,  says  of  this  :  '  My  prede- 
cessor took  the  living  with  the  consent  of  the 
vicar  of  Bradford  and  certain  trustees,  in  conse- 
quence of  which  he  was  so  opposed  that,  after 
only  three  weeks'  possession,  he  was  compelled 


to  resign.'  What  this  opposition  and  its  imme- 
diate effects  were,  we  learn  from  the  pages  of 
Mrs.  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  and 
they  may  be  mentioned  here  as  illustrative  of 
the  pre-eminent  resolution  and  force  of  charac- 
ter which  ever  distinguish  the  inhabitants  of  the 
West  Riding  and  the  dwellers  on  these  rough- 
hewn  and  storm-beaten  elevations. 

During  the  long  illness  which  preceded  the 
death  of  Mr.  Charnock,  incumbent  of  Haworth, 
his  assistant  curate,  Mr.  Redhead,  had  supplied 
his  place  ;  who,  on  Mr.  Bronte's  withdrawal,  was 
presented,  as  is  stated  above,  to  the  vacant 
living  by  the  patron,  and  he  seems  to  have 
been  determined  to  hold  the  chapelry,  vi  et  armis, 
in  defiance  of  the  inhabitants.  But  the  free- 
holders, conceiving  they  had  been  deprived  of 
their  long  established  prerogative,  or  an  attempt 
was  being  made  to  interfere  with  it,  protested 
against  Mr.  Redhead's  appointment.  On  the 
first  occasion  of  this  gentleman's  preaching  in 
the  church,  it  was  crowded  not  by  worshippers, 
but  by  a  multitude  of  people  bent  on  mischief. 
These  resolved  the  service  should  not  proceed,  or 
that  it  should  be  rendered  inaudible.  To  secure 


this  object  they  had  put  on  the  heavy  wooden 
clogs  they  daily  wore,  except  on  Sundays,  and, 
while  the  surpliced  minister  was  reading  the 
opening  service,  the  stamping  and  clattering 
of  the  clogs  drowned  his  voice,  and  the  people 
left  the  church,  making  all  the  noise  and  up- 
roar that  was  in  their  power,  which  was  by  no 
means  feeble.  The  following  Sunday  witnessed 
proceedings  still  more  disgraceful.  We  are  told 
that  at  the  commencement  of  the  service,  a  man 
rode  up  the  nave  of  the  church  on  an  ass,  with 
his  face  to  the  tail,  and  with  a  number  of  old 
hats  piled  on  his  head.  On  urging  his  beast  for- 
ward, the  screams  of  delight,  the  roars  of  laugh- 
ter, and  the  shouts  of  the  approving  conspira- 
tors completely  drowned  the  clergyman's  voice ; 
and  he  left  the  chapel,  but  not  yet  discomfited. 

Mr.  Redhead,  on  the  third  Sunday,  resolved 
to  make  a  strenuous  and  final  effort  to  keep  the 
ecclesiastical  citadel  of  which  he  had  been 
formally  put  in  possession.  For  this  purpose  he 
brought  with  him  a  body  of  cavalry,  composed 
of  a  number  of  sympathising  gentlemen,  with 
their  horses ;  and  the  curate,  thus  accompanied 
by  his  supporters,  ascended  the  village  street 


and  put  up  at  the  '  Bull.'  But  the  enemy  had 
been  on  the  alert:  the  people  were  exasperated, 
and  followed  the  new-comers  to  the  church, 
accompanied  by  a  chimney-sweep  who  had,  not 
long  before,  finished  his  labours  at  some  adja- 
cent chimneys,  and  whom  they  had  made  half 
drunk.  Him  they  placed  right  before  the 
reading-desk,  which  Mr.  Kedhead  had  already 
reached,  and  the  drunken,  black-faced  sweep 
nodded  assent  to  the  measured  utterances  of  the 
minister.  '  At  last,'  it  is  said,  '  either  prompted 
by  some  mischief-maker,  or  from  some  tipsy 
impulse,  he  clambered  up  the  pulpit  stairs,  and 
attempted  to  embrace  Mr.  Redhead.  Then  the 
fun  grew  fast  and  furious.  Some  of  the  more 
riotous  pushed  the  soot-covered  chimney-sweeper 
against  Mr.  Redhead,  as  he  tried  to  escape. 
They  threw  both  him  and  his  tormentor  down 
on  the  ground  in  the  churchyard  where  the 
soot-bag  had  been  emptied,  and  though,  at 
last,  Mr.  Redhead  escaped  into  the  "  Black  Bull," 
the  doors  of  which  were  immediately  barred, 
the  people  raged  without,  threatening  to  stone 
him  and  his  friends.'1  They  escaped  from  the 

1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  ii. 


place,  and  Mr.  Redhead,  completely  vanquished, 
retired  from  the  curacy  of  Haworth. 

Mr.  Bronte,  who  had  made  a  favourable  im- 
pression on  the  inhabitants,  was  now  accepted 
by  them,  and  the  natural  kindness  of  his  disposi- 
tion and  the  urbanity  of  his  manners,  secured 
peace  and  contentment  in  the  village. 

His  responsibilities  as  a  pastor  were  not  light, 
though  the  new  scene  of  his  labours,  in  moral 
condition,  was,  perhaps,  no  worse  than  the 
generality  of  similar  villages  in  the  north  of 
England.  The  special  chroniclers  of  Haworth 
speak  of  the  population  of  the  barren  mountains 
west  of  York  as  'rude  and  arrogant,  after  the 
manner  of  their  wild  country.'  This  is  the 
testimony  of  James  Either,  a  Yorkshire  esquire. 
The  celebrated  Oliver  Haywood,  preaching  at 
the  house  of  Jonas  Foster,  at  Haworth,  on  June 
13th,  1672,  broke  out  into  lamentations  about 
the  immorality,  corruption,  and  profanity  of  the 
place.  Mr.  Grimshaw,  in  the  last  century,  while 
curate  there,  had  a  conviction  that  the  majority 
of  the  people  were  going  to  hell  with  their  eyes 
open  !  Mrs.  Gaskell  informs  us  that  at  Haworth, 
*  drinking  without  the  head  being  affected  was 


considered  a  manly  accomplishment.'  A  re- 
markable instance  of  the  loss  of  reverence  and 
the  increase  of  profanity,  in  those  days,  is  found 
in  the  observance  of  Palm  Sunday  at  Hepton- 
stall,  a  neighbouring  village,  and  at  Haworth 
itself  this  feast  was  pre-eminently  distinguished 
in  ancient  times  by  the  out-door  processions  of 
people  going  from  the  church  and  returning  to 
it,  bearing  palm  branches  and  singing  the  psalms 
and  hymns  appointed  for  the  special  festival. 

It  is  known,  indeed,  that  this  feast  was  attended 
by  the  inhabitants  of  the  surrounding  hills  and 
valleys  in  those  times;  and,  at  the  period  of 
which  I  speak,  the  attendance  of  the  people 
was  not  diminished,  but  increased,  though  they 
came  for  another  object.  It  is  a  singular  fact 
that  local  feuds,  if  we  may  call  them  such,  were 
kept  up  between  the  villages  of  the  West 
Riding.  And  thus  challenges  were  given  alter- 
nately by  Haworth  to  Heptonstall,  and  by 
Heptonstall  to  Haworth,  for  struggles  between 
the  champions  of  the  respective  villages,  to 
be  fought  out  on  Palm  Sunday.  The  inhabit- 
ants of  these  places,  therefore,  met  to  pound 
and  pummel  each  other  without  any  civil  or 


religious  cause  to  give  bitterness  to  the  fray: 
greed  of  triumph  and  brutal  indifference  to- 
injuries  inflicted  characterized  these  hostile 
meetings.  On  such  occasions,  at  Heptonstall, 
amidst  great  drunkenness  and  rioting,  there 
were  '  stand-up '  fights  from  the  church-gates 
to  the  '  Buttress,'  a  steep  part  of  the  road, 
near  the  bridge  which  crosses  the  river  at  the 
foot  of  Heptonstall  Bank — nearly  a  mile  in 
extent.  On  one  of  these  feasts,  a  Haworth 
belligerent,  unwilling  to  return  home,  although 
night  was  drawing  on,  and  looking  extremely 
dissatisfied,  when  asked  by  his  wife  what  ailed 
him,  answered,  'Aw  'annot  fawhten  wi'  onny 
body  yet,  an'  aw'll  nut  gooa  whom  till  aw  dun 
summat.'  His  affectionate  spouse  replied,  'Then 
gooa,  an'  get  fawhten'  an'  ha'  done  wi'  it,  for 
we  mun  •  gooa.'  The  West  Riding  police,  on 
their  institution,  put  an  end  to  these  disagrace- 
ful  proceedings. 

Haworth,  the  new  place  of  Mr.  Bronte's  in- 
cumbency, which  has  been  well  and  very  fully 
described  by  many  writers,  is  situated  on  the 
western  confines  of  the  parish  of  Bradford,  and 
stands  on  a  somewhat  lofty  eminence.  It  is, 


however,  protected  in  great  measure  from  the 
Avestern  storms  by  still  higher  ground,  which 
consists  of  irreclaimable  moors  and  morasses. 

The  church  in  which  he,  for  the  remainder  of 
his  life,  performed  his  religious  services,  and  in 
which  his  more  gifted  children  repose,  after 
their  brief  but  memorable  lives,  was  of  ancient 
date.  A  chantry  was  founded  there  at  the 
beginning  of  the  reign  of  Edward  III.,  where 
a  priest  celebrated  daily  for  the  repose  of  the 
soul  of  Adam  de  Battley,  and  for  the  souls  of 
his  ancestors,  and  for  all  the  faithful  departed. 
The  church,  which  is  dedicated  to  the  glory  of 
God,  in  honour  of  St.  Michael  the  archangel, 
has  been  recently,  to  a  great  extent,  re-edified. 
The  old  structure  retained  traces  of  one  still 
older,  of  the  early  English  style.  Invested  as 
it  was  with  the  evidences  of  the  periods  of  taste 
good  and  bad  through  which  it  had  passed,  and 
with  the  associations  which  attach  to  old  and 
familiar  internal  arrangements,  it  was  endeared 
to  the  inhabitants.  Of  such  associations  the 
present  church — though  an  architectural  gain 
upon  its  predecessor — is  necessarily  destitute, 
and  the  world-wide  interest  with  which  the 


former  structure  was  invested  through  the 
genius  of  the  Brontes  has  been  almost  de- 
stroyed by  the  substitution  of  an  edifice  in 
which  they  never  prayed,  and  which  they  never 
saw;  though  their  remains  repose,  it  is  true, 
under  its  pavement,  as  is  indicated  by  memorial 

During  the  existence  of  the  old  church, 
Haworth  was  visited  by  continuous  streams  of 
people;  but,  on  its  removal,  little  was  left  to 
a1  tract  pilgrims  from  afar,  and  there  was  a 
manifest  diminution  of  visitors  to  the  village. 

In  the  recent  alterations,  the  parsonage  also, 
in  which  the  children  of  the  Eev.  Patrick  Bronte 
lived  and  won  for  themselves  enduring  fame  in 
the  path  of  literature,  has  undergone  consider- 
able changes.  It  has  been  found  necessary  to 
add  a  new  wing  to  the  house,  in  order  to  obtain 
larger  accommodation,  and,  to  beautify  the  par- 
sonage still  further,  the  old  cottage  panes, 
through  which  light  fell  on  precious  and  in- 
valuable pages  of  elaborate  manuscript,  as  they 
passed  through  delicate  and  gifted  hands,  have 
given  way  to  plate-glass  squares.  Altogether 
the  house,  both  inside  and  out,  presents  a  very 


different  appearance  from  that  which  it  did  in 
the  time  of  the  Brontes. 

The  chapehy  at  Haworth,  when  Mr.  Bronte 
accepted  the  perpetual  curacy,  was  much  more 
populous  and  important  than  that  of  Thornton. 
The  stipend  of  £170  per  annum,  with  a  fair 
residence  attached,  and  a  sum  of  £27  13s.  for 
maintenance,  made  the  change  a  desirable  one 
on  pecuniary  grounds ;  and,  with  Mrs.  Bronte's 
annuity  of  £50  a  year,  anxiety  on  this  head  was 
no  doubt  allayed. 

The  population  of  the  district  was  about  four 
thousand  seven  hundred,  and,  in  the  first  ten 
years  of  Mr.  Bronte's  incumbency,  increased  by 
nearly  twelve  hundred  souls.  The  chapelry  in- 
cluded within  its  bounds  the  townships  or  hamlets 
of  Stanbury  and  Near  and  Far  Oxenhope,  with 
the  extensive  moors  and  scattered  houses  stretch- 
ing to  the  borders  of  Lancashire.  The  curacy  of 
Stanbury,  a  place  one  mile  west  of  Haworth, 
with  £100  per  annum,  was  in  the  gift  of  Mr. 
Bronte  ;  and  there  was  also  the  interest  on  £600, 
with  a  house,  for  the  maintenance  of  a  free 
school  at  that  place,  and  a  sum  of  £90  per 
annum  for  a  like  purpose  at  Haworth.  In  the 


year  1849,  while  Mr.  Bronte  was  still  incumbent, 
the  chapelry  of  Haworth  was  divided,  a  church 
having  been  erected  at  Oxenhope  at  a  cost  of 
£1,500,  the  curacy  there  being  valued  at  £150 
per  annum. 

Among  the  considerations  which  had  weight 
with  Mr.  Bronte  in  his  determination  to  accept 
the  curacy  of  Haworth  was,  in  all  probability, 
the  delicate  state  of  his  wife's  health,  and  the 
not  over-robust  constitutions  of  his  children. 
He  knew,  that  though  from  the  smoke-laden 
atmosphere  of  the  busy  centres  of  West  Riding 
industry,  Keighley  and  Haworth  were  not  wholly 
exempt,  yet  the  winds  which  prevailed  from  the 
west  and  the  south-west  for  a  great  part  of  the 
year,  and  swept  over  the  moorlands  from  whose 
heights  the  Irish  Channel  itself  was  visible, 
would,  by  their  purity,  give  that  invigoration 
of  which  his  family  stood  in  need.  It  is  quite 
possible,  indeed,  that  by  Mr.  Bronte's  removal 
to  Haworth,  which  gave  an  almost  illimitable 
range  of  wild,  heathery  hills  for  his  children  to 
wander  over,  an  extension  of  their  short  lives 
may  have  been  attained.  Mrs.  Bronte,  however, 
derived  little  or  no  benefit  from  the  change. 


She  had  suffered  for  some  time  under  a  fatal 
malady — an  internal  cancer — of  which,  about 
eighteen  months  after  her  arrival  at  Haworth, 
she  died. 




The  Mother  of  the  Brontes — Her  Character  and  Personal 
Appearance — Her  Literary  Taste — Penzance,  her 
Native  Place — Description  of  Penzance — The  Bran- 
well  Family — Personal  Traits  of  Maria  Branwell — 
Her  Virtues — Her  Letters  to  Mr.  Bronte' — Her 
Domestic  Experiences. 

THE  mother  of  the  Brontes — whose  death,  in 
September,  1821,  deprived  her  children  of  the 
affectionate  and  tender  care  which,  for  the  short 
period  of  her  married  life,  she  had  bestowed 
upon  them — would,  had  she  been  spared,  have 
moulded  their  characters  by  her  own  meek, 
gentle,  and  maternal  virtues.  Mrs.  Bronte  is 
said  to  have  been  small  in  person,  but  of  grace- 
ful and  kindly  manners ;  not  beautiful,  yet 
comely  and  ladylike,  and  gifted  with  great 
discrimination,  judgment,  and  modesty.  Mrs. 
VOL.  I.  D 


Gaskell  says  she  '  was  very  elegant,  and  always 
dressed  with  a  quiet  simplicity  of  taste  which 
accorded  well  with  her  general  character,  and 
of  which  some  details  call  to  mind  the  style  of 
dress  preferred  by  her  daughter  for  her  favourite 
heroines.'  Mrs.  Bronte  was  also  gifted  with 
literary  ability  and  taste.  She  had  written  an 
essay  entitled,  '  The  Advantages  of  Poverty  in 
Religious  Concerns,'  with  a  view  to  publication 
in  some  periodical ;  and  her  letters  were  charac- 
terized by  elegance  and  ease.  Her  relations  in 
Penzance  spoke  of  her  as  '  their  favourite  aunt, 
and  one  to  whom  they,  as  well  as  the  family, 
looked  up  as  a  person  of  talent  and  great 
amiability  of  disposition ;'  and  again,  as  '  possess- 
ing more  than  ordinary  talents,  which  she 
inherited  from  her  father.' 

Mrs.  Bronte,  as  has  been  said,  was  a  native  of 
Penzance,  a  corporate  town  in  the  county  of 
Cornwall,  and  also  a  sea-port.  Penzance  is 
situated  in  the  hundred  of  Penwith,  and  is  the 
most  westerly  town  in  England.  The  climate 
is  distinguished  by  great  mildness  and  salubrity, 
and  the  land  is  remarkable  for  its  fertility,  and 

MRS.  BRONTK.  35 

the  beauty  of  its  meads  and  pastures.  Its  mari- 
time situation,  however,  had,  in  former  times, 
exposed  it  to  the  descents  of  foreign  invaders, 
the  last  of  which  appears  to  have  been  that  of 
the  Spaniards  in  the  year  15i>5.  The  account 
given  of  this  event  is  that  the  invaders,  being 
masters  of  Bretagne,  sent  four  vessels  manned 
with  a  force  sufficient  to  occupy  the  Cornish 
coast.  They  landed  near  Mousehole — a  well- 
known  place  on  the  western  side  of  Mount's 
Bay — and  entered  the  town,  which  they  set  on 
fire,  the  inhabitants  fleeing  before  them.  At  a 
later  date  the  town  became  .very  pleasant,  and 
many  of  the  houses  were  large  and  respectable, 
while  the  streets  were  well  paved.  Generally 
the  people  enjoyed  long  lives,  and  some  attained 
the  patriarchal  age  :  one  of  these — Dolly  Pen- 
treath,  who  died  in  her  one  hundred  and  second 
year,  and  who  had  made  the  *  Mousehole '  her 
residence — was  known  as  the  last  who  spoke 
Cornish.  On  account  of  the  gentleness  of  the 
climate,  many  suffering  from  pulmonary  corn- 
plaints  took  up  their  residence  there. 

Peuzance  was  a  town  surrounded  by  places  of 



great  interest  to  the  historian  and  the  antiquary, 
which  are  fully  described  by  Borlase  and  others. 
The  trades  carried  on  at  the  place  were  of  con- 
siderable extent  in  tin  and  the  pilchard  fishery, 
as  well  as  in  copper,  earthenware,  clay,  and  in 
other  objects  of  manufacture  and  merchandise. 
In  one  of  the  local  industries,  Mr.  Thomas  Bran- 
well  was  engaged.  He  had  married  a  lady 
named  Carne,  and  they  had  four  daughters  and 
one  son.  Maria  was  their  third  daughter.  The 
families  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Branwell  were  well 
connected,  and  moved  in  the  best  society  in 
Penzance.  They  were  Wesleyan  Methodist  in 
religion,  and  the  children  were  brought  up  in 
that  persuasion.  Mr.  Branwell  relieved  the  cares 
of  business  by  the  delights  and  consolations  of 
music,  in  the  performance  of  which  he  is  said  to 
have  had  considerable  ability.  He  and  his  wife 
lived  to  see  their  children  grown  up  ;  and  died, 
Mr.  Branwell  in  1808,  and  his  wife  in  1809. 

Maria  Branwell  visited  her  uncle,  Mr.  Fennel, 
at  the  beginning  of  the  summer  of  1812,  as  is 
stated  above,  and,  for  the  first  time,  saw  Mr. 
Bronte.  A  feeling  of  mutual  admiration  sprang 
up  between  them,  and  something  like  the 

MRS.  BRONTE.  37 

beginning  of  an  engagement  took  place.  When 
she  returned  home,  a  correspondence  opened 
between  the  two,  and  Mr.  Bronte  preserved  the 
letters.  These  have  been  referred  to  by  the 
biographer  of  his  daughter,  and  we  learn  that 
the  communications  of  Miss  Bran  well  were 
characterized  by  singular  modesty,  thoughtful- 
ness,  and  piety.  She  was  surprised  to  find  herself 
so  suddenly  engaged,  but  she  accepted  with 
modest  candour  the  proffer  of  Mr.  Bronte's 
affection.  The  future  was  determined  by  mutual 
acquiescence.  On  Miss  Branwell,  nature  had 
bestowed  no  great  personal  attractions,  yet,  as 
has  been  said,  she  was  comely,  and  lady-like  in 
her  manners ;  and  her  innate  grace  drew  irresisti- 
bly to  her  the  esteem  of  all  her  acquaintances. 
Little  is  known  respecting  her  beyond  the 
personal  traits  already  mentioned ;  and  as  to  the 
circumstances  and  events  of  her  life,  unmarried 
or  married,  which  was  one  of  an  extremely  even 
and  uneventful  kind,  little  or  nothing  can  be 
recorded  beyond  the  ordinary  routine  of  domes- 
tic duties  well  and  affectionately  performed,  and 
of  obligations  in  her  sphere  religiously  observed. 
Blameless  in  her  conduct,  loving  in  her  charge, 


and  patient  in  the  sufferings  she  was  called 
upon  to  endure,  she  was  a  pattern  of  those  ex- 
cellencies which  are  the  adornments  of  domestic 
life,  and  make  the  hearth  happy  and  content- 
ed. It  cannot  be  doubted  that  she  ordered 
her  household  with  judgment,  and  expended  her 
husband's  income  with  frugality  and  to  the  best 

Mrs.  Gaskell  was  enabled  to  give  an  extract 
from  one  of  her  letters  written  to  Mr.  Bronte 
before  her  marriage,  which  displays  in  an  excel- 
lent manner  her  calm  sensibility  and  under- 
standing. She  says  :  '  For  some  years  I  have 
been  perfectly  my  own  mistress,  subject  to  no 
control  whatever ;  so  far  from  it  that  my  sisters, 
who  are  many  years  older  than  myself,  and  even 
my  dear  mother,  used  to  consult  me  on  every 
occasion  of  importance,  and  scarcely  ever 
doubted  the  propriety  of  my  opinions  and  actions; 
perhaps  you  will  be  ready  to  accuse  me  of  vanity 
in  mentioning  this,  but  you  must  consider  that  I 
do  not  boast  of  it.  I  have  many  times  felt  it  a 
disadvantage,  and  although,  i  thank  God,  it  has 
never  led  me  into  error,  yet,  in  circumstances  of 

MRS.  BRONTE.  39 

uncertainty  and  doubt,  I  have  deeply  felt  the 
want  of  a  guide  and  instructor.' l 

The  usual  preparations,  which  Mrs.  Gaskell  has 
particularized,  were  made  for  the  wedding ;  but 
during  the  arrangements  a  disaster  happened, 
to  which  the  following  letter  to  Mr.  Bronte 
refers : — 

'I  suppose  you  never  expected  to  be  much 
richer  for  me,  but  I  am  sorry  to  inform  you  that 
I  am  still  poorer  than  I  thought  myself.  I  men- 
tioned having  sent  for  my  books,  clothes,  &c. 
On  Saturday  evening,  about  the  time  when  you 
were  writing  the  description  of  your  imaginary 
shipwreck,  I  was  reading  and  feeling  the  effects 
of  a  real  one,  having  then  received  a  letter  from 
my  sister,  giving  me  an  account  of  the  vessel  in 
which  she  had  sent  my  box  being  stranded  on 
the  coast  of  Devonshire,  in  consequence  of  which 
the  box  was  dashed  to  pieces  with  the  violence 
of  the  sea,  and  all  my  little  property,  with  the 
exception  of  a  few  articles,  being  swallowed  up 
in  the  mighty  deep.  If  this  should  not  prove 

I1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iii. 


the  prelude  to  something  worse,  I  shall  think 
little  of  it,  as  it  is  the  first  disastrous  circumstance 
which  has  occurred  since  I  left  home.' 1 

The  wedding  took  place  at  Guiseley,  on 
December  29th,  1812,  as  is  stated  in  the  pre- 
vious chapter. 

1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iii. 




Character  of  the  Rev.  P.  Bronte — Charges  against  Him — 
Serious  Allegations  of  Biographers — Injustice  of  the 
Charges — Mr.  Bronte's  indignant  Denial  of  the  Im- 
putations— Testimony  of  Nancy  Garrs — Mrs.  Bronte 
and  the  Silk-Dress  Episode — Mr.  Bronte,  the  Sup- 
posed Prototype  of  Mr.  Helstone — The  Pistol-shots 
Theory — Mr.  Bronte  on  Science  Knowledge — Miss 

THE  character  of  the  Rev.  Patrick  Bronte,  who 
was  responsible,  after  the  death  of  his  wife,  for 
the  education  of  his  children,  if  we  may  believe 
the  accounts  given  of  it  by  those  who  have 
admired  their  genius,  had  many  deplorable  pecu- 
liarities. It  would  be  difficult,  indeed,  to  find 
anywhere  the  record  of  such  passionate  out- 
breaks, such  unreasoning  prejudices,  and  such 
unbending  will  as  are  revealed  in  the  stories 
which  are  told  of  him.  But  we  shall  see  pre- 


sently  that  most  of  these  charges  have  no 
foundation  in  fact,  while  others  are,  probably, 
the  result  of  total  misconception. 

Mrs.  Gaskell  gives  an  account  of  these  pecu- 
liarities. On  one  occasion,  she  tells  us,  after 
the  children  had  been  out  on  the  wet  moors, 
the  nurse  had  rummaged  out  certain  coloured 
boots  given  to  them  by  the  Rev.  Mr.  Morgan, 
who  had  been  sponsor  for  Maria  at  Hartshead, 
and  had  arranged  them  before  the  fire.  Mr. 
Bronte  observing  this,  and  thinking  the  bright 
colours  might  foster  pride,  heaped  the  boots 
upon  the  coals,  and  filled  the  house  with  a 
very  strong  odour  of  burnt  leather.  'Long 
before  this,'  she  says,  '  some  one  had  given 
Mrs.  Bronte  a  silk  gown  .  .  .  she  kept  it  trea- 
sured up  in  her  drawers.  One  day,  however, 
while  in  the  kitchen,  she  remembered  that  she 
had  left  the  key  in  the  drawer,  and,  hearing 
Mr.  Bronte  upstairs,  she  augured  some  ill  to 
her  dress,  and,  running  up  in  haste,  she  found 
it  cut  into  shreds  .  .  .  He  did  not  speak  when 
he  was  annoyed  or  displeased,  but  worked  off 
his  volcanic  wrath  by  firing  pistols  out  of  the 
back-door  in  rapid  succession  .  .  .  Now  and 


then  bis  anger  took  a  different  form,  but  still 
was  speechless.  Once  he  got  the  hearth-rug, 
and,  stuffing  it  up  the  grate,  deliberately  set 
it  on  fire,  and  remained  in  the  room  in  spite  of 
the  stench  until  it  had  smouldered  and  shrivelled 
away  into  uselessness.  Another  time  he  took 
some  chairs,  and  sawed  away  at  the  backs  till 
they  were  reduced  to  the  condition  of  stools.'1 

Mr.  Wemyss  Reid,  who  implicitly  adopts  the 
'  pistol  shots '  and  '  pretty  dress '  stories,  while 
paying  a  high  tribute  to  Mr.  Bronte's  rectitude, 
and  to  his  just  pride  in  the  celebrity  of  his 
daughters,  says  of  him,  'He  appears  to  have 
been  a  strange  compound  of  good  and  evil. 
That  he  was  not  without  some  good  is  acknow- 
ledged by  all  who  knew  him.  He  had  kindly 
feelings  towards  most  people  ...  But  through- 
out his  whole  life  there  was  but  one  person 
with  whom  he  had  any  real  sympathy,  and  that 
person  was  himself.'  He  was  '  passionate,  self- 
willed,  vain,  habitually  cold  and  distant  in  his 
demeanour  towards  those  of  his  own  house- 
hold.' His  wife  '  lived  in  habitual  dread  of  her 
lordly  master  ...  It  would  be  a  mistake  to 
1  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap,  iii,  1st  edition. 


suppose  that  violence  was  one  of  the  weapons 
to  which  Mr.  Bronte  habitually  resorted  .  .  . 
his  general  policy  was  to  secure  his  end  by 
craft  rather  than  by  force.'1 

Miss  Robinson,  without  hesitation,  repeats  tha 
censures  on  Mr.  Bronte  published  by  Mrs.  Gas- 
kell  and  Mr.  Reid,  asking,  *  Who  dare  say  if 
that  marriage  was  happy  ?  Mrs.  Gaskell.  writ- 
ing in  the  life  and  for  the  eyes  of  Mr.  Bronte, 
speaks  of  his  unwearied  care,  his  devotion  in 
the  night-nursing.  But,  before  that  fatal  illness 
was  declared,  she  lets  fall  many  a  hint  of  the 
young  wife's  loneliness  ...  of  her  patient  suf- 
fering, of  his  violent  temper.'2 

It  will  thus  be  seen  that  the  disposition  of 
Mr.  Bronte  must  have  been  a  sad  one  indeed, 
if  all  these  statements  are  true ;  and  marvel- 
lous that,  with  '  such  a  father,'  the  young  and 
sterling  faculties  of  the  'six  small  children' 
should  have  been  so  admirably  directed  and 
trained  that,  of  the  four  who  lived  to  later 
years,  three  at  least  occupy  an  exalted  and 

1  '  Charlotte  Bronte,  a  Monograph,'  pp.  20,  21,  22. 
2  '  Emily  Bronte,'  by  A.  Mary  F.  Robinson,  1883,  p.  16. 


prominent  position  among  women  of  letters  in 
the  present  century.  And  it  would  be  still 
more  strange  that  these  children  were  espe- 
cially distinguished  for  the  gentleness  of  their 
dispositions,  and  the  refinement  of  their  ideas. 
It  may  be  hoped  that  the  readers  of  this  volume, 
with  their  additional  knowledge  of  the  affection- 
ate, but  often  wayward,  Bran  well,  will  sympa- 
thize with  the  sentiment  which  Monsieur  Heger 
expressed  in  his  letter  to  Mr.  Bronte,  that,  en 
jugeant  un  pere  de  famille  par  ses  enfants  on  ne 
risque  pas  de  se  tromper.  For  we  can  scarcely 
doubt  that  the  characteristics  of  the  children, 
which  I  have  named,  were  due,  in  fact,  in  great 
measure,  to  Mr.  Bronte's  affectionate  supervision 
and  education  of  them.  He  had  graduated  at 
St.  John's  College,  Cambridge,  as  we  have  seen  ; 
and  the  culture  and  tone  of  the  university  were 
brought  under  the  roof  of  his  house,  where  his 
children — more  especially  Branwell — were  sub- 
jected to  its  influence.  Moreover,  whatever  may 
be  thought  of  Mr.  Bronte's  intellectual  gifts,  or 
of  the  talent  he  displayed  in  his  poems  and  prose 
writings,  we  may  be  sure  that  he  possessed,  in  a 


marked  degree,  a  deep  sympathy  with  a  higher 
mental  training,  and  with  the  truth  and  simplicity 
of  a  pastoral  life. 

After  the  allegations  against  Mr.  Bronte  had 
appeared  in  the  first  edition  of  the  life  of  his 
daughter  Charlotte,  he  never  ceased  to  deny  the 
scandalous  reflections  upon  his  character  in  that 
work.  'They  were,'  he  said  to  me,  'wholly 
untrue.'  He  stated  that  he  had  '  fulfilled  every 
duty  of  a  husband  and  a  father  with  all  the 
kindness,  solicitude,  and  affection  which  could  be 
required  of  him.'  And  Mrs.  Bronte  herself  had 
said,  as  quoted  by  Mrs.  Gaskell,  'Ought  I  not  to 
be  thankful  that  he  never  gave  me  an  angry 
word  T  thus  openly  declaring  that,  whatever 
might  have  been  the  peculiarities  of  Mr.  Bronte's 
temper,  his  wife,  at  least,  never  suffered  the 
consequences.  The  children  also  ever  looked 
up  to  their  father  with  reverence,  gratitude,  and 

In  a  conversation  I  had  with  Mr.  Bronte  on 
the  8th  of  July,  1857,  he  spoke  of  the  unjustifiable 
reflections  upon  himself  which  had  been  made 
public,  and  he  said,  '  1  did  not  know  that  I  had 
an  enemy  in  the  world,  much  less  one  who  would 


traduce  me  before  iny  death,  till  Mrs.  Gaskell's 
"Life  of  Charlotte"  appeared.  Every  thing  in  that 
book  which  relates  to  my  conduct  to  my  family 
is  either  false  or  distorted.  I  never  did  commit 
such  acts  as  are  there  ascribed  to  me.'  At  a  later 
interview  Mr.  Bronte  explained  that  by  the  word 
*  enemies,'  he  implied,  'false  informants  and 
hostile  critics.'  He  believed  that  Mrs.  Gaskell 
had  listened  to  village  scandal,  and  had  sought 
information  from  some  discarded  servant. 

Let  us  then  examine  the  source  of  these 
allegations.  Mrs.  Gaskell  tells  us  that  her 
informant  was  '  a  good  old  woman,'  who  had 
been  Mrs.  Bronte's  nurse  in  her  illness.  Now  it 
is  known  that,  whatever  good  qualities  this 
person  may  be  supposed  to  have  had,  her  con- 
scientiousness and  rectitude,  at  least,  were  not 
of  the  first  order,  and  she  was  detected  in  pro- 
ceedings which  caused  Mr.  Bronte  to  dismiss  her 
at  once.  With  the  double  effect  of  explaining 
her  dismissal  and  injuring  Mr.  Bronte,  this  person 
gave  an  account  of  his  temper  and  conduct, 
embellished  with  the  stories  which  I  have  quoted 
from  the  first  edition  of  the  '  Life  of  Charlotte,' 
to  a  minister  of  the  place ;  and  it  was  in  this  way 


that  Mrs.  Gaskell  became  acquainted  with  her 
and  them.  Nancy  Garrs,  a  faithful  youn g  woman 
who  had  been  in  Mr.  Bronte's  service  at  Thorn- 
ton, who  continued  with  the  family  after  the 
removal  to  Haworth,  and  who  still  survives — a 
widow,  Mrs.  Wainwright — at  an  advanced  age,  a 
well-known  inhabitant  of  Bradford,  informs  me 
that  the  '  silk  dress '  which  Mr.  Bronte  is  said  to 
have  torn  to  shreds  was  a  print  dress,  not  new, 
and  that  Mr.  Bronte,  disliking  its  enormous 
sleeves,  one  day,  finding  the  opportunity,  cut 
them  off.  The  whole  thing  was  a  joke,  which 
Mrs.  Bronte  at  once  guessed  at,  and,  going  up- 
stairs, she  brought  the  dress  down,  saying  to 
Nancy,  '  Look  what  he  has  done ;  that  falls  to 
your  share.'  Nancy  declares  the  other  stories 
to  be  wholly  unfounded.  She  speaks  of  Mr. 
Bronte  as  a  '  most  affectionate  husband ;  there 
never  was  a  more  affectionate  father,  never  a 
kinder  master ;'  and  '  he  was  not  of  a  violent 
temper  at  all ;  quite  the  reverse.' 

This  view  of  these  slanderous  stories  is  fortu- 
nately also  confirmed  out  of  the  mouth  of  Char- 
lotte Bronte.  In  the  fourth  chapter  of  '  Shirley/ 
speaking  of  Mr.  Helstone — whose  character, 


though  not  absolutely  founded  on  that  of  her 
father,  is  yet  unquestionably  influenced  by  her 
knowledge  of  his  disposition,  and  of  some  inci- 
dents in  which  he  had  been  concerned, — she  says 
that  on  the  death  of  his  wife,  '  his  dry-eyed  and 
sober  mourning  scandalized  an  old  housekeeper, 
and  likewise  a  female  attendant  who  had  waited 
upon  Mrs.  Helstone  in  her  sickness  ....  they 
gossiped  together  over  the  corpse,  related  anec- 
dotes   with    embellishments    of  her    lingering 
decline,  and  its  real  or  supposed  cause  ;  in  short, 
they  worked  each  other  up  to  some  indignation 
against  the  austere  little  man,  who  sat  examin- 
ing papers  in  an  adjoining  room,  unconscious 
of  what  opprobrium  he  was  the  object.     Mrs. 
Helstone  was  hardly  under  the  sod  when  ru- 
mours began  to  be  rife  in  the  neighbourhood 
that  she   had   died   of  a  broken  heart;  these 
magnified  quickly  into  reports  of  hard  usage, 
and,  finally,  details  of  harsh  treatment  on  the 
part  of  her  husband :  reports  grossly  untrue,  but 
riot  less  eagerly  received  on  that  account.'     It 
will  thus  be  seen  that  the  character  of  Mr.  Hel- 
stone becomes  in  part  a  defence  of  Mr.  Bronte. 
On  the  occasion  above  referred  to,  Mr.  Bronte 
VOL  I.  E 


went  on  to  say  that,  '  while  duly  acknowledging 
the  obligations  he  felt  himself  under  to  Mrs. 
Gaskell  for  her  admirable  memoir  of  his  daugh- 
ter, he  could  not  but  regard  her  uncalled-for 
allusions  to  himself,  and  the  failings  of  his  son 
Bran  well,  as  the  excrescences  of  a  work  other- 
wise ably  earned  out.'  He  appeared,  on  this 
occasion,  to  be  consoled  by  the  thought  that, 
owing  to  the  remonstrances  he  had  made,  the 
objectionable  passages  would  be  expunged 
from  the  subsequent  editions  of  the  work,  and 
that  he  would  ultimately  be  set  right  with  the 
public.  He  concluded  with  these  words  : — '  1 
have  long  been  an  abstraction  to  the  world,  and 
it  is  not  consoling  now  to  be  thus  dragged 
before  the  public  ;  to  be  represented  as  an  un- 
kind husband,  and  charged  with  acts  which  I 
never  committed.' 

The  story  of  the  pistol-shots  admits  of  ready 
explauation.  It  is  known  that  Mr.  Bronte,  like 
Helstone,  had  a  strange  fascination  in  military 
affairs,  and  he  seems  to  have  had  almost  the 
spirit  of  Uncle  Toby.  He  lived,  too,  in  the 
troublous  times  of  the  Luddites,  and  had  kept 
pistols  for  defence  as  Mr.  Helstone  did.  That 


gentleman,  it  will  be  remembered,  had  two  pairs 
suspended  over  the  mantel-piece  of  his  study,  in 
cloth  cases,  kept  loaded.  As  I  have  reason  to 
know,  Mr.  Bronte,  having  been  accustomed  to 
the  use  of  fire-arms,  retained  the  possession  of 
them  for  safety  in  the  night ;  but,  fearing  they 
might  become  dangerous,  occasionally  dis- 
charged them  in  the  day-time. 

Mr.  Bronte's  remonstrances  and  denials,  and 
his  refutation  of  the  scandals  attributed  to  him, 
had  their  effect ;  and  the  charges  complained  of 
were  entirely  omitted  in  the  edition  of  the  '  Life 
of  Charlotte,'  published  in  the  year  1860.  Mr. 
Bronte  was  in  his  eighty-fourth  year  when  this 
tardy  act  of  bare  justice  was  done  to  him.  It 
may  be  added  that  the  people  of  Haworth,  when 
they  saw  in  print  Mrs.  G  ask  ell's  exaggerated  and 
erroneous  statements,  loudly  expressed  their  dis- 
approbation. Mr.  Wood,  late  churchwarden  of 
Haworth,  also  denied  the  stories  of  the  cutting 
up  of  Mrs.  Bronte's  dress,  and  the  other  charges 
just  referred  to. 

The  truth  about  Mr.  Bronte  appears  to  be  this  : 
that  though,  like  Mr.  Helstone — many  of  the 
traits  of  whose  character  were  derived  from  that 


of  the  incumbent  of  Haworth — be  might  have 
missed  his  vocation,  like  him  he  was  '  not  dia- 
bolical at  all,'  and  that,  like  him,  also,  '  he  was  a 
conscientious,  hard-headed,  hard-handed,  braver 
stern,  implacable,  faithful  little  man  :  a  man  al- 
most without  sympathy,  ungentle,  prejudiced, 
and  rigid  :  but  a  man  true  to  principle — honour- 
able, sagacious,  and  sincere.'  Possibly  we  should 
not  be  wholly  mistaken  in  saying  that,  like  the 
parson  in  '  Shirley,'  Nature  never  intended  him 
'  to  make  a  very  good  husband,  especially  to  a 
quiet  wife.'  He  lacked  the  fine  sympathy  and 
delicate  perception  that  would  have  enabled 
him  to  make  his  family  entirely  happy ;  and 
when  brooding  over  his  politics,  his  pamphlets, 
and  his  sermons,  like  Mr.  fielstone,  he  probably 
locked  '  his  liveliness  in  his  book-case  and  study- 
desk.'  Yet  Mr.  Helstone  is  neither  brutal  nor 
insane, '  neither  tyrannical  nor  hypocritical,'  but 
'  simply  a  man  who  is  rather  liberal  than  good- 
natured,  rather  brilliant  than  genial,  rather 
scrupulously  equitable  than  truly  just — if  you 
can  understand  such  superfine  distinctions  T 

It  would  not  have  been   necessary,   in  this 
work,  to  defend  at  such  length  the  character  of 


the  Rev.  Patrick  Bronte,  had  it  not  happened, 
unfortunately,  that  recent  works,  which  have 
treated  admirably  of  the  writings  of  his  daugh- 
ters, have  also  acquiesced  in,  and  to  a  great 
extent  reiterated,  the  serious  charges  made 
against  him.  Moreover,  it  can  never  be  a  use- 
less thing  to  retrieve  a  character  which  has  been 
thoughtlessly  taken  away.  This  defence  has 
now  been  made,  and  it  may  be  hoped  that  the 
*  six  motherless  children '  had  a  more  amiable 
and  affectionate  father  than  is  generally  sup- 
posed, and  that  he  paid  careful  and  anxious 
attention  to  their  bringing-up  and  to  their 
education.  Indeed,  of  this  there  need  be  no 
doubt.  The  death  of  his  wife  had  placed  them 
in  his  hands,  he  being  their  only  support  on 
earth,  and  it  surely  is  not  too  much  to  say  that 
he  knew  his  duty,  and  did  it  well,  as  the  lives  of 
his  children  prove,  on  the  ground  of  natural 
affection,  and,  perhaps,  of  higher  motives  also. 

The  following  extract  from  a  letter  written 
by  Mr.  Bronte  a  few  years  later,  in  reference 
to  scientific  knowledge,  is  sufficiently  charac- 
teristic. He  says :  '  In  this  age  of  innovation 
and  scepticism,  it  is  the  incumbent  duty  of 


every  man  of  an  enlarged  and  pious  mind  to 
promote,  to  the  utmost  extent  of  his  abilities, 
every  movement  in  the  variegated,  complex 
system  of  human  affairs,  which  may  have  either 
a  direct,  indirect,  or  collateral  tendency  to  purify 
and  expand  the  naturally  polluted  and  circum- 
scribed mind  of  fallen  nature,  and  to  raise  it  to 
that  elevation  which  the  Scriptures  require,  as 
well  as  the  best  interests  of  humanity.' 

Upon  the  death  of  his  wife,  Mr.  Bronte  felt 
the  need  of  some  one  to  superintend  the  affairs 
of  his  household,  and  assist  him  in  this  import- 
ant charge  of  the  bringing-up  of  his  children ; 
and  so,  towards  the  end  of  the  year  1822,  an 
elder  sister  of  the  deceased  lady,  Miss  Elizabeth 
Branwell  of  Penzance,  came  to  reside  with  him. 
She  is  represented  to  have  been,  in  personal 
appearance,  of  low  and  slight  proportions ;  prim 
and  starched  in  her  attire,  which  was,  when 
prepared  for  the  reception  of  visitors,  invariably 
of  silk ;  and  she  wore,  according  to  the  fashion 
of  the  time,  a  frontal  of  auburn  curls,  grace- 
fully overshadowing  her  forehead.  She  took 
occasionally,  through  habit,  a  pinch  from  her 
gold  snuff-box,  which  she  had  always  at  hand. 


When  she  had  taken  up  her  residence  at  bleak, 
wild,  and  barren  Haworth,  she  is  said  to  have 
sighed  for  the  flower-decked  meads  of  sunny 
Peuzance,  her  native  place.  Miss  Branwell's 
affectionate  regard  for  her  dead  sister's  chil- 
dren caused  her  to  take  deep  interest  in  every- 
thing relating  to  them,  their  health,  the  comfort 
and  cleanliness  of  their  home,  and  the  sedulous 
culture  of  their  minds.  In  the  management  of 
of  Mr.  Bronte's  household  she  was  materially 
assisted  by  the  faithful  and  trustworthy  Tabby, 
who,  in  1825,  was  added  to  the  family  as  a 
domestic  servant.  By  a  long  and  faithful  ser- 
vice of  some  thirty  years  in  the  Bronte  family, 
Tabby  gained  the  respect  and  confidence  of 
the  household.  She  had  been  born  and  nurtured 
in  the  chapelry  of  Haworth,  at  a  time  when 
mills  and  machinery  were  not,  when  railways 
had  not  made  the  inhabitants  of  the  hills  and 
valleys  familiar  with  the  cities  and  towns  of 
England;  and,  moreover,  before  the  ancient 
dialect,  so  interesting  philologically  to  the 
readers  of  King  Alfred's  translations  of  Oro- 
sius  and  Bede,  and  the  like,  came  to  be  con- 
sidered rude,  vulgar,  and  barbarous.  Tabby 


used  the  dialect  rightly,  without  any  attempt 
to  improve  on  the  language  of  her  childhood 
and  of  her  fathers;  and  she  was  original  and 
truthful  in  this,  as  in  all  her  ways.  It  was 
from  Tabby,  principally,  that  the  youthful  Brontes 
gained  the  familiarity  with  the  Yorkshire  Doric, 
which  they  afterwards  reproduced  with  such 
accuracy  in  '  Shirley,'  *  Wuthering  Heights,'  and 
others  of  their  writings. 




Girlhood — Gravity  of  Character — Charlotte's  Description 
of  the  Elf -land  of  Childhood — The  Still  and  Solemn 
Moors  of  Ilaworth  influence  their  Writings — The 
Present  of  Toys — The  Plays  which  they  Acted — 
Mr.  Bronte  on  a  Supposed  Earthquake — The  Evi- 
dence of  his  Care  for  his  Children — Grammar  School 
at  Haworth — His  Children  under  the  Tuition  of  the 
Master — The  Character  of  the  School — Cowan-Bridge 
School — Charlotte's  View  of  Mr.  Carus  Wilson's 
Management — Deaths  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth. 

THE  childhood  of  the  Brontes  in  the  parsonage 
of  Haworth  has  been  pictured  to  us  as  a  very 
strange  one  indeed.  We  have  seen  them  de- 
prived in  their  early  youth  of  that  maternal 
care  which  they  required  so  much,  and  left  in 
the  hands  of  a  father  unfamiliar  with  such  a 
charge,  who  was  filled  with  Spartan  ideas  of 
discipline,  and  with  theories  of  education  above 
and  beyond  the  capacity  of  childhood.  There 


was  probably  little  room  in  the  house  of  Mr. 
Bronte  for  gaiety  and  amusement,  very  little 
tolerance  for  pretty  dress,  or  home  beauty,  and 
small  comprehension  of  childish  needs.  Rigid 
formality,  silent  chambers,  staid  attire,  frugal 
fare,  and  secluded  lives  fell  to  the  lot  of  these 
thoughtful  and  gifted  children.  It  was  no 
wonder  that  they  grew  up  '  grave  and  silent 
beyond  their  years ;'  that,  when  infantine  re- 
laxation failed  them,  they  betook  themselves  to 
reading  newspapers,  and  debating  the  merits  of 
Hannibal  and  Cassar,  of  Buonaparte  and  Wel- 
lington ;  or  that,  when  they  were  deprived  of 
the  company  of  the  village  children  by  the 
'  Quis  ego  et  quis  tu  ?'  which  was  forced  too 
early  upon  them,  they  fled  for  silent  companion- 
ship with  the  moors.  Yet  this  childhood,  stern 
and  grim  though  it  was,  where  we  look  in  vain 
for  the  beautiful  simplicity  and  sunny  gladness 
which  should  ever  distinguish  the  features  of 
youth,  had  a  beauty  and  a  joy  of  its  own ; 
and  it  had  a  merit  also.  Charlotte  Bronte 
herself  has  left  us  one  of  the  most  beautiful 
pictures  which  can  be  found  in  English  litera- 
ture of  the  pleasures  of  childhood,  that  elf-land 


which  is  passed  before  the  shores  of  Reality- 
have  arisen  in  front ;  when  they  stand  afar  off, 
so  blue,  soft,  and  gentle  that  we  long  to  reach 
them  ;  when  we  '  catch  glimpses  of  silver  lines, 
and  imagine  the  roll  of  living  waters,'  heedless 
of  *  many  a  wilderness,  and  often  of  the  flood  of 
Death,  or  some  stream  of  sorrow  as  cold  and 
almost  as  black  as  Death  '  that  must  be  crossed 
ere  true  bliss  can  be  tasted.  So  the  Brontes, 
trooping  abroad  on  the  moors,  revelling  in  the 
freedom  of  Nature,  while  their  faculties  expand- 
ed to  the  noblest  ends,  lived  also  in  the  heroic 
world  of  childhood,  '  its  inhabitants  half-divine 
or  semi-demon  ;  its  scenes  dream-scenes ;  darker 
woods  and  stranger  hills ;  brighter  skies,  more 
dangerous  waters ;  sweeter  flowers,  more  tempt- 
ing fruits  ;  wider  plains ;  drearier  deserts ;  sun- 
nier fields  than  are  found  in  Nature.'  Can  we 
doubt  that  the  Bronte  children,  endowed,  as  the 
world  was  afterwards  to  know,  with  keener 
perceptions,  more  exalted  sympathies,  and  nobler 
gifts  than  other  children,  enjoyed  these  things 
more  than  others  could?  And  the  merit  of 
their  childhood  was  this :  that  it  impressed  them 
in  the  strongest  form  with  the  influence  of 


locality,  with  the  boundless  expanse  of  the 
moors,  and  with  the  weird  and  rugged  charac- 
ter of  the  people  amongst  whom  they  lived, 
and  whom  they  afterwards  drew  so  well.  Such 
influences  as  these  are  a  quality  more  or  less 
traceable  in  the  works  of  every  author,  but  they 
are  very  apparent  in  the  productions  of  the 
Brontes.  These  writers  could  not  have  pro- 
duced '  Jane  Eyre,'  '  Shirley,'  and  '  Wuthering 
Heights '  without  them,  any  more  than  Gold- 
smith could  have  written  his  '  Vicar  of  Wake- 
field'  if  his  early  years  had  not  been  passed  in 
the  pleasant  village  of  Lissey.  The  moors, 
clothed  with  purple  heather  and  golden  gorse 
,in  billowy  waves,  were  certainly  all  in  all  to 
Emily  Bronte ;  and  she  and  her  sisters,  and  the 
youthful  Branwell  with  his  ready  admiration 
and  brilliant  fancy,  escorted  by  Tabby,  enjoyed 
to  the  full  the  free  atmosphere  of  the  heights 
around  Haworth.  The  rushing  sound  of  their 
own  waterfall,  and  the  shrill  cries  of  the  grouse, 
which  flew  up  as  they  came  along,  were  to 
them  friendly  voices  of  the  opening  life  of  Nature 
whose  potent  influence  inspired  them  so  well. 


Of  other  companionship  in  their  early  years 
they  had  hardly  any;  and  being  unable  to 
associate  much  with  children  of  their  own  age 
and  condition,  or  to  play  with  their  young  and 
immediate  neighbours  in  childish  games,  Mr. 
Bronte's  son  and  daughters  grew  up  amongst 
their  elders  with  heads  older  than  their  years, 
and  spoke  with  a  knowledge  that  might  have 
sprung  from  actual  experience  of  men  and 
manners.  They  were,  in  fact,  '  old-fashioned 
children.'  Their  extraordinary  cleverness  was 
soon  observed,  and  the  servants  were  always  on 
their  guard  lest  any  of  their  remarks  might  be 
repeated  by  the  children.  Notwithstanding 
this,  the  little  Brontes  were  children  still,  and 
and  took  pleasure  in  the  things  of  childhood. 
Up-grown  men  will  not  whip  a  top  on  the 
causeways,  nor  trundle  a  hoop  through  the 
streets,  nor  play  at  '  hide-and-seek '  at  dusk  as 
of  yore  ;  but  the  Bronte  children  in  their  youth- 
ful days  did  all  these  things,  and  they  entered 
at  times  with  ardour,  despite  their  precocious 
gravity,  into  the  simple  joys  and  amusements  of 
childhood,  as  is  testified  by  the  eager  delight 


with  -which  they  regarded  the  presents   of  the 
toys  they  received. 

The  earliest  notice  we  have  of  Branwell 
Bronte  is  that  Charlotte  remembered  having 
seen  her  mother  playing  with  him  during  one 
golden  sunset  in  the  parlour  of  the  parsonage  at 
Haworth.  Later,  we  are  informed  that  Mr. 
Bronte  brought  from  Leeds  on  one  occasion  a 
box  of  wooden  soldiers  for  him.  The  children 
were  in  bed,  but  the  '  next  morning,'  says 
Charlotte,  in  one  of  her  juvenile  manuscripts, 
*  Branwell  came  to  our  door  with  a  box  of 
soldiers.  Emily  and  I  jumped  out  of  bed,  and  I 
snatched  up  one  and  exclaimed,  "  This  is  the 
Duke  of  Wellington !  This  shall  be  the  duke  !" 
When  I  had  said  this,  Emily  likewise  took  up 
one  and  said  it  should  be  hers ;  when  Anne 
came  down  she  said  one  should  be  hers.  Mine 
was  the  prettiest  of  the  whole,  and  the  tallest, 
and  the  most  perfect  in  every  part.  Emily's 
was  a  grave-looking  fellow,  and  we  called  him 
"  Gravey."  Anne's  was  a  queer  little  thing  much 
like  herself,  and  we  called  him  "  Waiting-boy." 
Branwell  chose  his,  and  called  him  "Buona- 
parte."' So  Charlotte  relates  these  glad  iuci- 


dents  of  their  childhood  with  pleasure,  and 
places  on  record  the  joy  they  inspired. 

Mr.  Bronte  says,  '  When  mere  children,  as 
soon  as  they  could  read  and  write,  Charlotte 
and  her  brother  and  sisters  used  to  invent  and 
act  little  plays  of  their  own,  in  which  the  Duke 
of  Wellington,  my  daughter  Charlotte's  hero, 
was  sure  to  come  off  conqueror ;  when  a  dispute 
would  not  infrequently  arise  amongst  them  re- 
garding the  comparative  merits  of  Buonaparte, 
Hannibal,  and  Caesar.' 

In  acting  their  early  plays,  they  performed 
them  with  childish  glee,  and  did  not  fail  at  times 
to  '  tear  a  passion  to  tatters.'  They  observed 
that  Tabby  did  not  approve  of  such  extraordi- 
nary proceedings;  but  on  one  occasion,  with 
increased  energy  of  action  and  voice,  they  so 
wrought  on  her  fears  that  she  retreated  to  her 
nephew's  house,  and,  as  soon  as  she  could  regain 
her  breath,  she  exclaimed,  '  William !  yah  muu 
gooa  up  to  Mr.  Bronte's,  for  aw'm  sure  yon  chil- 
der's  all  gooin  mad,  and  aw  darn't  stop  'ith 
hause  ony  longer  wi'  'em ;  an'  aw'll  stay  here 
woll  yah  come  back!'  When  the  nephew 
reached  the  parsonage,  '  the  childer  set  up  a 


great  crack  o'  laughin','  at  the  wonderful  joke 
they  had  perpetrated  on  faithful  Tabby. 

Mr.  Bronte — like  other  parents  and  friends  of 
precocious  and  gifted  children,  who,  in  after- 
life have  become  celebrated  in  religion,  art, 
poetry,  literature,  politics,  or  war,  and  who  have 
given  out  in  childhood  tokens  of  brilliant  and 
sterling  gifts  which  have  been  recorded  in  their 
biographies — saw  in  his  own  children  evidences 
of  that  mental  power,  fervid  imagination,  and 
superior  faculty  of  language  and  expression, 
which  were  developed  in  them  in  after-years. 
He  often  fancied  that  great  powers  lay  in  his 
children,  and  it  cannot  be  doubted  that  he 
sometimes  looked  forward  to  and  hoped  for  a 
brilliant  future  for  his  offspring.  It  was  this 
hope  that  cheered  him,  and  he  gave  to  Mrs. 
Gaskell,  for  publication,  all  the  evidences  of 
genius  in  his  son  and  daughters,  as  children, 
Avhich  he  could  remember.  But,  from  the  in- 
formation he  imparted  to  that  writer,  we  can 
scarcely  gather,  I  fear,  sufficient  to  justify  the 
inference  he  drew,  or  appears  to  have  drawn, 
for  the  particulars  given  border  too  much  on 
the  trivial  and  unimportant.  Perhaps  Mr. 


Bronte  failed  to  remember  the  special  evi- 
deuces  he  had  observed  of  what  he  intended 
to  convey  at  the  actual  moment  of  communi- 
cation. Be  this  as  it  may,  no  doubt  remained 
on  his  mind  that  genius  was  apparent  in  his 
children  above  and  apart  from  their  eager  read- 
ing of  magazines  and  newspapers,  nor  that  other 
,  schemes  and  objects  occupied  their  thoughts 
than  the  interests  and  contentions  of  the  poli- 
tical parties  of  the  hour. 

'  When  my  children  were  very  young/  says 
Mr.  Bronte, — '  when,  as  far  as  I  can  remember, 
the  oldest  was  about  ten  years  of  age,  and  the 
youngest  about  four, — thinking  that  they  knew 
more  than  I  had  yet  discovered,  in  order  to 
make  them  speak  with  less  timidity,  I  deemed 
that,  if  they  were  put  under  a  sort  of  cover,  I 
might  gain  my  end ;  and,  happening  to  have  a 
mask  in  the  house,  I  told  them  all  to  stand  and 
speak  boldly  from  under  cover  of  the  mask.  I 
began  with  the  youngest  (Anne,  afterwards 
Acton  Bell),  and  asked  what  a  child  like  her 
most  wanted ;  she  answered,  "  Age  and  ex- 
perience." I  asked  the  next  (Emily,  afterwards 
Ellis  Bell)  what  I  had  best  do  with  her  brother 
VOL.  1.  F 


Branwell,  who  was  sometimes  a  naughty  boy  ; 
she  answered,  "  Reason  with  him,  and,  when  he 
won't  listen  to  reason,  whip  him.1'  I  asked 
Branwell  what  was  the  best  way  of  knowing 
the  difference  between  the  intellects  of  man 
and  woman  ;  he  answered,  "  By  considering  the 
difference  between  them  as  to  their  bodies." ' 
In  answer  to  a  question  as  to  which  were  the 
two  best  books,  Charlotte  said  that  '  the  Bible,' 
and  after  it  the  '  Book  of  Nature,'  were  the 
best.  Mr.  Bronte  then  asked  the  next  daughter, 
'  What  is  the  best  mode  of  education  for  a 
woman ;'  she  answered,  '  That  which  would 
make  her  rule  her  house  well.'  He  then  asked 
the  eldest,  Maria,  '  What  is  the  best  mode  of 
spending  time ;'  she  answered,  '  By  laying  it 
out  in  preparation  for  a  happy  eternity.'  He 
says  he  may  not  have  given  the  exact  words, 
but  they  were  nearly  so,  and  they  had  made  a 
lasting  impression  on  his  memory.1 

But  the  intellectual  pabulum  of  Mr.  Bronte's 
children,  for  some  time,  consisted,  for  the  most 
part,  as  we  are  told,  of  magazines  and  news- 
papers. As  these  took  the  place  of  toy-books 

1  Mrs.  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iii. 


and  fairy  tales,  their  young  minds  were  attracted 
by  such  moral  subjects  and  entertaining  stories 
as  were  treated  of  in  the  serials  of  the  day ;  and 
their  attention  was  also  largely  engaged  in  the 
political  questions  which  were  then  debated  in 
the  Houses  of  Parliament.  Imbibing  from  their 
father  their  religious  and  political  views  and 
opinions,  they  became  strong  partizans  and  sup- 
porters of  the  leading  Conservatives  in  the  House 
of  Lords  and  the  House  of  Commons.  They  had 
often  heard  conversations  between  their  father 
and  aunt  011  these  subjects ;  they  listened  with 
interested  attention,  and  obtained  information  aa 
to  the  outer  world  and  its  pursuits.  By  their 
surroundings  their  minds  were  soon  raised  above 
the  thoughts,  desires,  and  interests  of  childhood 
in  general;  and,  under  the  circumstances,  though 
it  may  seem  odd,  it  is  not  extraordinary  that 
wooden  soldiers  should  thus  be  made,  by  these 
talented  children,  to  represent  the  two  great 
opposing  warriors  of  the  present  age. 

In  addition  to  the  general  bringing-up  of  his 
children  at  home,  and  the  formal  tasks  which 
Mr.  Bronte  set  them,  magazines  and  other  pub- 
lications were  thrown  about,  and  Maria,  being 



the  eldest,  was  wont  to  read  the  newspapers 
when  she  was  less  than  nine  years  old,  and 
reported  matters  of  home  and  foreign  interest, 
as  well  as  those  relating  to  the  public  characters 
and  current  affairs  of  the  day,  to  her  young 
brother  and  sisters.  Indeed,  so  earnest  was  her 
relevancy  on  such  occasions  in  these  unchildish 
and  grave  questions,  that  she  could  talk  upon 
them  with  discriminating  intelligence  to  her 
father,  whose  interest  in  his  children  thus  grew, 
as  their  faculties  expanded.  The  young  Brontes, 
though  still  in  childhood's  years,  were  soon  no 
longer  children  in  intellect :  they  touched,  in 
fact,  the  '  Shores  of  Reality'  at  an  earlier  age 
than  most  children ;  and,  though  interested 
sometimes,  perhaps  momentarily,  in  trivial 
matters,  they  seem  to  have  turned  almost  every- 
thing to  literary  account.  Even  Branwell's  toys, 
which  they  all  received  so  gleefully,  gave  rise  to 
the  '  Young  Men's  Play.' 

Mr.  Bronte,  though  interested  deeply  in  the 
gradual  development  of  the  mental  gifts  of  his 
children,  did  not  fail,  after  his  wife's  death,  to 
promote  and  protect  their  health,  and  he  availed 
himself  of  the  means  which  the  chapelry  of 


Haworth  afforded.  For  this  object  he  encouraged 
recreation  on  the  moors  at  suitable  times,  and 
subjected  the  young  members  of  his  family  to 
the  pure  and  exhilarating  breeze  that,  redolent 
of  heather,  breathed  over  them  from  the  sea, 
during  the  summer  and  autumnal  months. 

,  On  Tuesday,  September  the  2nd,  1824,  a 
severe  thunderstorm,  and  an  almost  unprece- 
dented downfall  of  rain  which  resembled,  in 
volume,  a  waterspout,  caused  the  irruption  of 
an  immense  bog,  at  Crow  Hill,  an  elevation, 
between  Keighley  and  Colne,  and  about  one 
thousand  feet  above  the  sea-level.  The  mud, 
mingled  with  stones,  many  of  large  size,  rolled 
down  a  precipitous  and  rugged  clough  that 
descended  from  it.  Reaching  the  hamlet  of 
Pondens,  the  torrent  expanded  and  overspread 
the  corn-fields  adjoining  to  the  depth  of  several 
feet,  with  many  other  devastating  consequences. 
Mr.  Bronte  regarded  this  as  the  effect  of  an 
earthquake,  and  he  sent  a  communication  to  the 
'Leeds  Mercury,'  in  which  he  says :  '  At  the  time 
of  the  irruption,  the  clouds  were  copper-coloured, 
gloomy,  and  lowering,  the  atmosphere  was 
strongly  electrified,  and  unusually  close.'  In 


the  same  month — on  Sunday,  September  12th, 
1824 — he  preached  a  sermon  on  the  subject,  in 
Ha  worth  Church,  in  which  he  informed  his 
hearers  that,  the  day  of  disaster  being  exceed- 
ingly fine,  he  had  sent  his  little  children,  who- 
were  indisposed,  accompanied  by  the  servants, 
to  take  an  airing  on  the  common,  and,  as  they 
stayed  rather  longer  than  he  expected,  he  went 
to  an  upper  chamber  to  look  out  for  their  return. 
The  heavens  over  the  moors  were  blackening 
fast ;  he  heard  the  muttering  of  distant  thunder, 
and  saw  the  frequent  flashes  of  lightning. 
Though,  ten  minutes  before,  there  was  scarcely 
a  breath  of  air  stirring,  the  gale  freshened  rapidly 
and  carried  along  with  it  clouds  of  dust  and 
stubble.  '  My  little  family,'  he  continued,  ;  had 
escaped  to  a  place  of  shelter,  but  I  did  not  know 
it.'  These  were  Charlotte,  Branwell,  Emily,  and 
Anne.  Their  sisters,  Maria  and  Elizabeth,  were 
then  at  Cowan  Bridge. 

When  Mr.  Bronte  accepted  the  living  of 
Haworth,  he  had  found  existing  there  a  Gram- 
mar School,  and  he  took  in  it  a  special  and  per- 
sonal interest,  for  it  was  an  old  institution,  was 
endowed,  and  had  recently  been  renovated.  It 


was  his  policy  to  show  that  he  took  an  interest 
in  it ;  so  that,  by  adding  his  support  to  that  of 
the  trustees,  he  might  possibly  confirm  their 
favourable  opinion  of  him,  and  secure  their  con- 
tinued good  feeling.  This  was  essential  at  the 
time,  as  any  appearance  of  coldness  on  his  part 
towards  their  cherished  foundation  would  have 
perhaps  evoked  a  spirit  akin  to  that  which 
caused  the  compulsory  resignation  of  Mr.  Red- 
head, or  have  induced  an  estrangement  between 
himself  and  the  trustees.  It  is  stated,  with  re- 
gard to  this  Grammar  School,  that  one  Christo- 
pher Scott  by  will,  dated  the  4th  of  October, 
loth  of  Charles  1.,  gave  a  school-house  which  he 
had  built  adjoining  the  church-way ;  and  or- 
dained that  there  should  be  a  school-master 
who  should  be  a  graduate  at  least,  a  bachelor, 
if  not  a  master  of  arts,  and  who  should  teach 
Greek  and  Latin.  The  school  had  been  en- 
larged in  1818,  when  the  Bronte  family  were 
still  at  Thornton,  and  a  new  house  was  then 
erected  for  the  master  by  the  trustees. 

As  this  foundation  was  designed  to  provide  a 
classical  education  for  its  students,  it  was  one 
to  which  the  better  classes  in  the  neighbourhood 


need  not  have  hesitated  to  entrust  their  children 
for  superior  instruction  than  could  possibly  be 
had  in  the  ordinary  schools  of  the  district.  The 
school  was  situated  close  to  the  parsonage,  a 
lane  only  intervening,  and  it  was  commodious 
and  lightsome.  But  Mr.  Bronte,  on  his  arrival, 
found  that  it  had  not  for  some  time  been  main- 
tained as  a  regular  Grammar  School :  that  there 
was  little  or  no  demand  for  the  advantages  of  a 
classical  education  for  their  children  among  the 
inhabitants  of  the  chapelry.1  Yet  the  master 
who  received  the  appointment  from  the  trustees 
at  the  Midsummer  of  1826,  although  not  even  a 
graduate  of  either  of  the  universities,  was  stated 
to  be  competent  to  teach  Latin,  and  was  a  man 
of  considerable  attainments,  instructing  both 
boys  and  girls  in  every  essential  branch  of 
knowledge.  In  this  the  tutor  differed  nothing 
from  some  of  his  immediate  predecessors.  But, 
though  education  of  this  sort  was  thus  imme- 
diately at  hand,  Mr.  Bronte  does  not  appear  to 
have  availed  himself  of  it  for  his  daughters,  or 
his  son  Branwell,  for  any  great  length  of  time. 
Mrs.  Gaskell  says,  indeed,  that  their  regular  tasks 
1  James's  '  History  of  Bradford,'  p.  358. 


were  given  by  himself.  Mr.  Bronte,  however, 
probably  heard  his  children  repeat  early  lessons 
set  by  the  master  in  order  to  ascertain  with  what 
facility  they  had  learned  them.  At  a  later  date, 
Branwell  and  his  sisters  took  a  larger  interest  in 
the  Grammar  School,  and  they  became  active 
and  willing  teachers  in  the  Sunday-school, 
which  was  connected  with  it.  They  were,  in- 
deed, often  seen,  as  is  yet  remembered,  in  the 
processions  of  the  scholars. 

Although  Mr.  Bronte  had  taken  vigilant  and 
affectionate  care  to  promote  the  health  of  his 
children,  he  was  well  aware  that  though  he  could 
strengthen  their  constitutions  in  some  sort,  deli- 
cate by  nature  as  they  were,  he  could  not  ward 
off  with  certainty  the  diseases  and  sufferings 
incident  to  childhood,  from  which  his  chil- 
dren were,  indeed,  unfortunately  destined  to 
suffer.  Solicitude  therefore  came  upon  the 
parsonage  when  Maria  and  Elizabeth  were 
attacked  by  measles  and  whooping-cough.  Re- 
covering partially  from  these  attacks,  it  was 
thought  desirable  to  send  them — perhaps  partly 
for  change  of  air — to  a  school  which  had  some- 
what recently  been  established  at  Cowan  Bridge, 


a  hamlet  on  the  coach-road  between  Leeds  and 
Kendal,  which  was  easily  reached  from  Haworth, 
as  the  coach  passed  daily.  This  school  was 
especially  established  for  the  board  and  educa- 
tion of  the  daughters  of  such  clegymen  of  the 
Establishment  as  required  it.  'It  was  begun,  as 
we  know  from  Mrs.  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte 
Bronte,'  by  the  Rev.  William  Carus  Wilson  ;  and 
we  are  aware  also  that  severe  and  unqualified 
censures  were  passed  upon  its  situation  and 
management  by  the  author  of 'Jane  Eyre,'  in 
after  years,  under  the  description  of  Lowood,  and 
that  the  Ellen  Burns  of  the  story  was  no  other 
than  Maria  Bronte.  Readers  of  '  Jane  Eyre  * 
became  indignant,  and  the  Cowan  Bridge  School 
was  execrated,  denounced,  and  condemned  by 
the  public,  to  the  utter  distress  and  pain  of  its 
founder  and  patron. 

In  reference  to  this  affair,  Charlotte  indeed 
said  to  her  future  biographer  that  '  she  should 
not  have  written  what  she  did  of  Lowood  in 
"  Jane  Eyre  "  if  she  had  thought  the  place  would 
have  been  so  immediately  identified  with  Cowan 
Bridge,  although  there  was  not  a  word  in  her 
account  of  the  institution  but  what  was  true  at 


the  time  when  she  knew  it.  She  also  said  that 
she  had  not  considered  it  necessary  in  a  work  of 
fiction  to  state  every  particular  with  the  imparti- 
ality that  might  be  required  in  a  court  of  justice, 
nor  to  seek  out  motives,  and  make  allowances 
for  human  failings,  as  she  might  have  done,  if 
dispassionately  analyzing  the  conduct  of  those 
who  had  the  superintendence  of  the  institution.' 
Mrs.  Gaskell  believes  Charlotte  '  herself  would 
have  been  glad  of  an  opportunity  to  correct  the 
over  strong  impression  which  was  made  upon 
the  public  mind  by  her  vivid  picture,  though 
even  she,  suffering  her  whole  life  long  both  in 
heart  and  body  from  the  consequences  of  what 
happened  there,  might  have  been  apt,  to  the 
last,  to  take  her  deep  belief  in  facts  for  the  facts 
themselves — her  conception  of  truth  for  the 
absolute  truth.'1 

But  it  is  only  just  to  Mr.  Wilson  to  say  that 
the  low  situation  of  the  premises  fixed  upon, 
the  arrangement  of  the  school-buildings,  and 
the  inefficient  management  of  the  domestic  de- 
partment, do  not  appear  to  have  been  so  fatal 
to  the  boarders,  even  if  we  admit  all  the  alleged 
1  Gaskell's  '  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iv. 


severities  of  the  regimen.  For,  when  a  low 
fever,  or  influenza  cold,  which  was  not  regarded 
by  Dr.  Batty  as  '  either  alarming  or  dangerous,' 
broke  out  at  the  school,  and  some  forty  of  the 
pupils  fell  more  or  less  under  its  influence,  none 
died  of  it  at  Cowan  Bridge,  and  only  one,  Mrs. 
Gaskell  informs  us,  from  after  consequences  at 
home ;  and,  though  delicate,  the  Bronte  chil- 
dren entirely  escaped  the  attack.  Mrs.  Gaskell 
has,  however,  entered  at  considerable  length 
into  a  detailed  account  of  the  alleged  misman- 
agement of  the  school,  the  severities  exercised 
over  the  pupils — especially  by  one  of  the  re- 
sponsible tutors,  « Miss  Scatcherd,' — the  cooking 
and  insufficiency  of  food,  the  general  neglect 
of  sanitary  regulations  in  the  domestic  depart- 
ment, and  the  utter  unfitness  of  the  place  itself 
for  the  continued  health  and  comfort  of  the 
inmates.  But  the  biographer  of  Charlotte 
Bronte  in  after-years  considerably  modified  the 
severe  strictures  which  her  heroine  had  thought 
fit  to  describe  in  'Jane  Eyre,' — an  admir- 
able work  of  fiction,  though  not  necessarily 
one  of  fact — and  she  says,  speaking  of  Char- 
lotte's account  of  the  Cowan  Bridge  School : 


'  The  pictures,  ideas,  and  conceptions  of  char- 
acter received  into  the  mind  of  the  child  of 
eight  years  old  were  destined  to  be  reproduced 
in  fiery  words  a  quarter  of  a  century  afterwards. 
She  saw  but  one  side  of  Mr.  Wilson's  character; 
and  many  of  those  Avho  knew  him  at  the  time 
assure  me  of  the  fidelity  with  which  this  is 
represented,  while  at  the  same  time  they  regret 
that  the  delineation  should  have  obliterated,  as 
it  were,  nearly  all  that  was  noble  and  conscien- 
tious.' It  appears  also  that  Mr.  Wilson  had 
'  grand  and  fine  qualities ' — which  were  left 
unnoticed  by  Charlotte — of  which  the  bio- 
grapher had  received  '  abundant  evidence.'1  Of 
these  Mr.  Bronte  seems  to  have  been  aware,  as 
Charlotte  and  Emily  were  sent  back  to  Cowan 
Bridge  after  the  deaths  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth. 
Mrs.  Gaskell  wonders  Charlotte  did  not  remon- 
strate against  her  father's  decision  to  send  her 
and  Emily  back  to  the  place,  knowing,  as  we 
may  suppose  she  did,  of  the  alleged  inflic- 
tion which  her  dead  sisters  had  endured  at  the 
very  school  to  which  she  and  Emily  were  re- 
turning. Surely  such  a  very  miserable  state  of 
1  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iv. 


things  as  is  described  in  '  Jane  Eyre  '  could  not 
nave  existed  at  the  time  to  impress  on  Char- 
lotte's mind  such  a  dread  as  we  are  asked  to 
believe  she  had,  and  Mr.  Bronte  could  not  be 
aware  that  any  serious  objections  to  the  school 
existed.  Indeed,  the  true  condition  of  the 
institution  at  the  period  is  apparent  from  the 
testimony  of  the  noble  and  benevolent  Miss 
Temple  of  '  Jane  Eyre,'  whose  husband  thus 
writes  :  '  Often  have  I  heard  my  late  dear  wife 
F.peak  of  her  sojourn  at  Cowan  Bridge ;  always 
in  terms  of  admiration  of  Mr.  Carus  Wilson,  his 
parental  love  to  his  pupils,  and  their  love  for 
him ;  of  the  food  and  general  treatment,  in 
terms  of  approval.  I  have  heard  her  allude  to 
an  unfortunate  cook  who  used  at  times  to  spoil 
the  porridge,  but  who,  she  said,  was  soon 

While  at  Cowan  Bridge,  Maria's  health  had 
suddenly  given  way,  and  alarming  symptoms 
declared  themselves.  Mr.  Bronte  was  sent  for. 
He  had  known  nothing  of  her  illness,  and  was 
terribly  shocked  when  he  saw  her.  He  ascended 
the  Leeds  coach  with  his  dying  child.  Mrs. 
Gaskell  says,  'the  girls  crowded  out  into  the 


road  to  follow  her  with  their  eyes,  over  the 
bridge,  past  the  cottages,  and  then  out  of  sight 
for  ever.' 

The  poignancy  of  Mr.  Bronte's  grief  on  this 
occasion  was  profound,  and  all  but  insupport- 
able. Here  was  his  first-born,  the  early  joy  of 
his  home  at  Hartshead,  the  intelligent  and  bril- 
liantly gifted  companion  of  the  first  few  years 
of  his  widowed  life — dying  before  him!  She, 
whose  innocent  and  thoughtful  converse  had 
cheered  his  solitary  moments,  and  whose  merry 
laugh  had  often  made  the  hearth  glad,  whose 
affectionate  care  of  her  little  brother  and  sisters, 
disinterested  as  it  was  incessant,  supplied  for 
them  the  offices  of  their  deceased  mother — was 
fading  from  his  sight !  Arriving  at  Haworth, 
they  were  received  with  sincere  and  tearful 
sympathy  by  Miss  Branwell,  and  with  childish 
alarm  and  dread  by  Branwell  and  Anne.  Every 
care  which  affection  could  provide  was  bestowed 
on  the  sinking  child,  but  she  died,  a  few  days 
after  her  arrival,  on  May  6,  1825. 

Elizabeth,  too,  struck  down  with  the  same 
fatal  disease,  came  home  to  die  of  consumption 
on  June  15  in  the  same  year,  but  a  month  and 


a  few  days  after  her  sister.  These  sorrowful 
events  were  never  forgotten  by  Branwell,  and 
the  impressions  made  upon  his  mind  by  the 
deaths  and  funeral  rites  he  had  witnessed  be- 
came the  theme  of  some  of  his  later  and  more 
mournful  effusions. 

The  early  recollection  of  Maria  at  Cowan 
Bridge  was  that  she  was  delicate,  and  unusually 
clever  and  thoughtful  for  her  age.  Of  Elizabeth 
Miss  Temple  writes:  'The  second,  Elizabeth,  is 
the  only  one  of  the  family  of  whom  I  have  a  vivid 
recollection,  from  her  meeting  with  a  somewhat 
alarming  accident ;  in  consequence  of  which  I 
had  her  for  some  days  and  nights  in  my  bed- 
room, not  only  for  the  sake  of  greater  quiet,  but 
that  I  might  watch  over  her  myself  ....  Of 
the  two  younger  ones  (if  two  there  were)  I  have 
very  slight  recollections,  save  that  one,  a  darling 
child  under  five  years  of  age,  was  quite  the  pet 
nursling  of  the  school.' 

'  This  last,'  says  Mrs.  Gaskell,  '  would  be 
Emily.  Charlotte  was  considered  the  most 
talkative  of  the  sisters— a  "  bright,  clever  little 
child." '' 

1 '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  iv. 




Reunion  of  the  Bronte  Family — Branwell  is  the  supposed 
Prototype  of  Victor  Crimsworth — That  Character 
not  a  complete  Portrait  of  Branwell — His  Friendships 
— His  Visit  to  the  Keighley  Feast — Its  Effect  011 
Branwell's  Nerves — The  Wrestle — The  Lost  Spec- 
tacles— Fear  of  his  Father's  Displeasure — Mrs.  Gas- 
kell's  Story  of  the  '  Black  Bull '  Incident  Questioned 
— Miss  Branwell  and  her  Nephew. 

UPON  the  return  of  Charlotte  and  Emily  from 
Cowan  Bridge,  the  youthful  Brontes,  whom 
death  had  spared,  were  united  again  ;  and,  for 
some  years  more,  followed  their  pursuits  together, 
until  Charlotte  went  to  school  at  Roe  Head  in 
1831.  Branwell  was  the  constant  companion 
of  his  sisters  during  these  childish  years,  and 
they  all  looked  upon  him  with  pride  and  affec- 
tion. Charlotte,  in  those  days,  was  a  sympathetic 
VOL.  I.  G 


friend  to  him ;  and,  in  his  later  years,  he  felt  it  a 
source  of  deep  regret  that  she  was  somewhat 
estranged.  But  the  gentle  Emily — after  the 
death  of  Maria — was  his  chief  companion,  and  a 
warm  affection  never  lost  its  ardour  between 
them.  The  sisters  were  quick  to  perceive  the 
Promethean  spark  that  burned  in  their  brother, 
and  they  looked  upon  Branwell,  as  indeed  did 
all  who  knew  him,  as  their  own  superior  in 
mental  gifts.  In  his  childhood  even,  Branwell 
Bronte  showed  great  aptitude  for  acquiring 
knowledge,  and  his  perceptive  powers  were 
very  marked.  He  was,  too,  gifted  with  a 
sprightly  disposition,  tinged  at  times  with  great 
melancholy,  but  he  acquired  early  a  lively  and 
fascinating  address.  There  was  a  fiery  ardour 
and  eagerness  in  his  manner  which  told  of  his 
abundant  animal  spirits,  and  he  entered  with 
avidity  into  the  enjoyments  of  the  life  that  lay 
before  him.  Charlotte,  who  knew  well  the 
treasures  of  her  brother's  opening  faculties,  his 
ability,  his  learning,  and  his  affection,  saw  also 
many  things  that  alarmed  her  in  his  disposition. 
She  saw  the  abnormal  and  unhealthy  flashing 
of  his  intellect,  and  marked  that  weakness  and 


want  of  self-control  which  left  Branwell,  when 
subjected  to  temptation,  a  prey  to  many  de- 
structive influences,  whose  effect  shall  hereafter 
be  traced.  There  is  reason  to  believe  that 
Charlotte  pictures  this  period  of  Bran  well's  life  in 
'  The  Professor,'  where  she  describes  the  child- 
hood of  Victor  Crimsworth ;  and,  though  the 
extract  is  rather  long,  it  is  given  here  as  valu- 
able, because  it  furnishes  a  full  record  of  the 
early  powers  of  Branwell,  and  of  the  manner  in 
which  his  sister — by  the  light  of  subsequent 
events — looked  upon  them  and  upon  his  failings, 
and  it  will  be  seen  that  towards  the  latter  she  is 
somewhat  inflexible. 

*  Victor,'  she  makes  William  Crimsworth  say, 
'  is  as  little  of  «'i  pretty  child  as  I  am  of  a  hand- 
some man  ....  he  is  pale  and  spare,  with 
large  eyes  ....  His  shape  is  symmetrical 
enough,  but  slight  ....  I  never  saw  a  child 
smile  less  than  he  does,  nor  one  who  knits  such 
a  formidable  brow  when  sitting  over  a  book 
that  interests  him,  or  while  listening  to  tales  of 
adventure,  peril,  or  wonder  ....  But,  though 
still,  he  is  not  unhappy — though  serious,  not 
morose ;  he  has  a  susceptibility  to  pleasurable 

G  2 


sensations  almost  too  keen,  for  it  amounts  to 
enthusiasm  ....  When  he  could  read,  he 
became  a  glutton  of  books,  and  is  so  still.  His 
toys  have  been  few,  and  he  has  never  wanted 
more.  For  those  he  possesses  he  seems  to  have 
contracted  a  partiality  amounting  to  affection  ; 
this  feeling,  directed  towards  one  or  two  living 
animals  of  the  house,  strengthens  almost  to  a 
passion  ....  I  saw  in  the  soil  of  his  heart 
healthy  and  swelling  germs  of  compassion, 
affection,  fidelity.  I  discovered  in  the  garden 
of  his  intellect  a  rich  growth  of  wholesome 
principles — reason,  justice,  moral  courage,  pro- 
mised, if  not  blighted,  a  fertile  bearing  .  .  .  She 
(his  mother)  sees,  as  I  also  see,  a  something  in 
Victor's  temper — a  kind  of  electrical  ardour  and 
power — which  emits,  now  and  then,  ominous 
sparks ;  llunsden  calls  it  his  spirit,  and  says  it 
should  not  be  curbed.  I  call  it  the  leaven  of 
the  offending  Adam,  and  consider  that  it  should 
be,  if  not  tvhipped  out  of  him,  at  least  soundly 
disciplined ;  and  that  he  will  be  cheap  of  any 
amount  of  either  bodily  or  mental  suffering  which 
will  ground  him  radically  in  the  art  of  self- 
control.  Frances  (his  mother)  gives  this  some- 


tldng  in  her  son's  marked  character  no  name ; 
but  when  it  appears  in  the  grinding  of  his  teeth, 
in  the  glittering  of  his  eye,  in  the  fierce  revolt 
of  feeling  against  disappointment,  mischance, 
sudden  sorrow,  or  supposed  injustice,  she  folds 
him  to  her  breast,  or  takes  him  to  walk  with  her 
alone  in  the  wood ;  then  she  reasons  with  him 
like  any  philosopher,  and  to  reason  Victor  is  ever 
accessible ;  then  she  looks  at  him  with  eyes  of 
love,  and  by  love  Victor  can  be  infallibly  subju- 
gated. But  will  reason  or  love  be  the  weapons 
with  which  in  future  the  world  will  meet  his 
violence  ?  Oh,  no !  for  that  flash  in  his  black  eye 
— for  that  cloud  on  his  bony  brow — for  that  com- 
pression of  his  statuesque  lips,  the  lad  will  some 
day  get  blows  instead  of  blandishments,  kicks 
instead  of  kisses ;  then  for  the  fit  of  mute  fury 
which  will  sicken  the  body  and  madden  his  soul ; 
then  for  the  ordeal  of  merited  and  salutary 
suffering  out  of  which  he  will  come  (1  trust)  a 
wiser  and  a  better  man.' 

The  natural  adornments  and  defects  of  Bran- 
well's  mind  in  boyhood,  which  may  to  some 
extent  be  traced  in  Charlotte's  picture  of  Victor 
Orimsworth,  in  '  The  Professor,'  must  not  be 


regarded  otherwise  than  as  possessing  a  general 
resemblance  to  those  which  are  found  in  that 
character.  Physically,  Branwell  and  Crimsworth 
were  dissimilar,  though  mentally  there  is  a  por- 
traiture ;  but  even  here,  Charlotte,  having  him 
in  her  mind  when  she  sketched  the  character  of 
Victor,  exaggerated  therein,  as  she  had  done  in 
other  instances,  the  actual  defects  of  her  brother. 
It  is  true,  nevertheless,  that  those  who  knew 
Branwell  Bronte  in  early  life  could  see  in  him 
the  original  of  Victor  Crimsworth. 

In  the  following  pages  the  greatness  of  Bran- 
well's  genius  may  be  observed, — great,  though 
marred  by  the  errors  and  misfortunes  of  his  life, 
— as  well  as  by  the  sorrows  which  his  impulsive, 
kindly,  and  affectionate  nature  brought  upon 
himself,  sorrows  thus  sadly  set  forth  by  his  sister 
as  the  outcome  of  his  passions,  and  described 
by  her  as  the  penalty  of  his  future  years. 

In  Branwell  Bronte,  the  '  leaven  of  the  offend- 
ing Adam'  might  now  and  then  certainly  be 
observed,  but  it  was  largely  modified  by  the 
ameliorating  influences  of  his  home ;  and,  al- 
though, from  the  failings  common  to  humanity, 
the  children  of  Mr.  Brontii  could  not  be  free,  his 


early  waywardness  and  petulance  were,  by  the 
influence  of  sex,  more  forcibly  expressed  than 
such  failings  could  be  in  his  sisters.  Between 
the  children  of  Mr.  Bronte,  however,  there  existed 
even  more  than  the  ordinary  affections  of  child- 
hood. At  this  period  of  their  lives,  they  were 
ignorant  of  the  wiles  of  corrupt  human  nature, 
and  Branwell,  with  all  the  lightsome  exuberance 
of  his  boyhood,  returned  without  stint  the  ardent 
and  deep  affection  of  his  sisters.  But,  when  a 
few  years  had  rolled  on,  he  awoke  to  the  sunny 
morning  of  youth ;  and,  in  the  absence  of  a 
brother,  sought  companionship  with  certain 
youths  of  Haworth,  and  made  them  playmates. 
Amongst  them  was  one,  the  brother  of  some 
friends  of  his  sisters,  who  became  to  him  a  per- 
sonal associate,  and  it  was  with  this  companion 
that  he  was  wont  to  sport  on  the  moors,  across 
the  meadows,  and,  with  joyous  laugh,  along  the 
streets  of  the  village. 

The  survivor  of  these  two  fiiends  gives  me  an 
incident  that  occurred  at  the  time  of  the  annual 
Feast  at  Keighley,  which  the  youths  visited. 
The  town  was,  as  is  usual  on  such  occasions, 
crowded  with  booths  and  shows,  and  various 


places  of  entertain ment.  Players  and  riders, — 
men  and  women, — clothed  in  gay  raiments,  ren- 
dered brilliant  with  spangles,  paced  backwards 
and  forwards  along  their  platforms  to  the  sound 
of  drums,  organs,  and  Pandean  pipes,  cymbals, 
tambourines,  and  castanets.  There  were  stalls, 
too,  weighted  with  nuts  and  various  confection- 
aries,  and  there  were  also  rockiug-boats  and 
merry-go-rounds,  with  other  amusements. 

As  the  evening  advanced,  and  the  shows  were 
lighted  up,  Branwell's  excitement,  hilarity,  and 
extravagance  knew  no  bounds :  he  would  see 
everything  and  try  everything.  Into  a  rocking- 
boat  he  and  his  friend  gaily  stepped.  The  rise 
of  the  boat,  when  it  reached  its  full  height,  gave 
Branwell  a  pleasant  view  of  the  fair  beneath ; 
but,  when  it  descended,  he  screamed  out  at  the 
top  of  his  voice, '  Oh  !  my  nerves  !  my  nerves ! 
Oh  !  my  nerves  !'  On  each  descent,  every  nerve 
thrilled,  tingled,  and  vibrated  with  overwhelm- 
ing effect  through  the  overwrought  and  delicate 
frame  of  the  boy.  Leaving  the  fair,  the  two 
proceeded  homeward ;  and,  reaching  a  country 
spot,  near  a  cottage  standing  among  a  thicket 
of  trees,  Branwell,  still  full  of  exuberant  life, 


proposed  a  wrestle  with  his  companion.  They 
engaged  in  a  struggle,  when  Branwell  was 
overthrown.  It  was  not  uiitil  reaching  the  vil- 
lage, and  seeing  the  lights  in  the  windows,  with 
considerably  enlarged  rays,  that  he  became 
aware  he  had  lost  his  spectacles, — for  Branwell 
was,  like  his  sister  Charlotte,  very  near-sighted. 
This  was,  indeed,  no  little  trouble  to  him,  as  he 
was  in  great  fear  lest  his  father  should  notice 
his  being  without  them,  and  institute  unpleasant 
inquiries  as  to  what  had  become  of  them.  He 
told  his  fears  to  his  companion  ;  but,  after  a 
sleepless  night  for  both,  Branwell's  friend  was 
early  on  the  spot  in  search  of  the  missing  specta- 
cles, when  the  woman  living  in  the  cottage 
close  by,  seeing  a  youth  looking  about,  came 
to  him,  and,  learning  for  what  he  sought, 
brought  out  the  glasses  which  she  had  picked 

up  from  the  ground  just  before  he  came.  M , 

glad  of  the  discovery,  hastened  to  the  parsonage, 
which  he  reached  to  find  Branwell  astir,  who 
was  overjoyed  on  receiving  the  missing  specta- 
cles, as  the  danger  of  his  father's  displeasure 
was  avoided. 

Mrs.  Gaskell   has  written   an  account  of  the 


brother  of  the  Bronte  sisters,  but  from  what 
source  I  am  unable  to  ascertain.  After  giving 
him  credit  for  those  abilities  in  his  boyhood  of 
which  evidence  is  given  in  these  pages,  she 
says  that :  '  Popular  admiration  was  sweet  to 
him,  and  this  led  to  his  presence  being  sought  at 
Arvills,  and  all  the  great  village  gatherings, 
for  the  Yorkshiremen  have  a  keen  relish  for 
intellect ;  and  it  likewise  procured  him  the  un- 
desirable distinction  of  having  his  company  re- 
commended by  the  landlord  of  the  "  Black  Bull " 
to  any  chance  traveller  who  might  happen  to 
feel  solitary  or  dull  over  his  liquor.  "  Do  you 
want  some  one  to  help  you  with  your  bottle, 
sir  ?  If  you  do,  I'll  send  up  for  Patrick  "  (so  the 
villagers  called  him  to  the  day  of  his  death, 
though,  in  his  own  family,  he  was  always  Bran- 
well).  And,  while  the  messenger  went,  the  laud- 
lord  entertained  his  guest  with  accounts  of  the 
wonderful  talents  of  the  boy,  whose  precocious 
cleverness  and  great  conversational  powers  were 
the  pride  of  the  village.'  This  account  of  the 
landlord  being  accustomed  to  send  to  the  par- 
sonage for  Branwell  to  come  down  to  the  '  Bull ' 
at  Haworth  on  these  occasions  is  denied  by 


those  who  knew  Bramvell  at  the  time,  as  well 
as  by  the  landlord.  The  latter  always  said  that 
he  never  ventured  to  do  anything  of  the  kind. 
It  would  have  been  a  vulgar  liberty,  and  an 
unpardonable  offence  to  the  inmates  of  the  par- 
sonage had  he  done  so.  Besides,  the  message 
would,  in  all  probability,  have  been  delivered 
to  a  servant,  or  perhaps  to  Mr.  Bronte  himself, 
or  to  one  of  his  daughters,  and  Branwell  would 
have  been  forbidden,  for  the  credit  of  the  family, 
to  lend  himself  for  such  a  purpose  at  the  public- 
house  below. 

Branwell  in  these  early  days  was  not  only  the 
beloved  of  the  household,  but  the  special  favour- 
ite of  his  aunt.  This  good  lady  was  proud  of 
her  family  and  name,  a  name  which  her 
nephew  bore  to  her  infinite  satisfaction,  so  that 
his  sometimes  rough  and  noisy  merriment  made 
his  aunt  glad,  rather  than  grieved,  because  it 
was  the  true  indication  of  health  of  mind  and 
body.  She  easily  pardoned  his  boyish  defects : 
and  at  times,  as  she  parted  his  auburn  hair,  she 
looked  in  his  face  with  fondness  and  affection, 
giving  him  moral  advice,  consistent  with  his  age, 
and  showing  him  how,  by  sedulously  cultivating 


the  abilities  with  which  God  had  blessed  him, 
he  would  attain  an  excellent  position  in  the 
world.  It  was  this  gentle  and  disinterested 
guide  that  Providence  had  placed  in  the  stead 
of  his  mother,  to  impart  to  her  son  the  good 
maxims  she  would  herself  have  given  him. 




The  youthful  Compositions  of  the  Brontes — Their  Charac- 
ter— Branwell's  Share  in  them — '  The  Secret,'  a  Frag- 
ment— The  Reading  of  the  Bronte  Children — Bran- 
well's  Character  at  this  Period. 

MR.  BRONTK,  perhaps,  made  use  of  a  slight  hyper- 
bole when  he  said  that,  as  soon  as  they  could  read 
and  write,  Charlotte  and  her  brother  and  sisters 
used  to  invent  and  act  little  plays  of  their  own ; 
but  it  is  certain  that,  at  an  early  period  of  their 
lives,  they  took  pleasure  and  pride  in  seeing  their 
thoughts  put  down  in  the  manifest  form  of 
written  words.  Charlotte,  indeed,  gives  a  list  of 
the  juvenile  works  she  had  composed.  They 
filled  twenty-two  volumes,  and  consisted  of 
Tales,  Adventures,  Lives,  Meditations,  Stories, 
Poems,  Songs,  &c.  Without  repeating  all  the- 


titles  which  Mrs.  Gaskell  and  others  have  pub- 
lished, it  may  be  said  that  the  productions  mani- 
fested extraordinary  ability  and  industry.  Bran- 
well,  Emily,  and  Anne  partook  of  the  same  spirit, 
and  displayed  similar  energy  according  to  the 
leisure  they  could  command. 

Before  Charlotte  went  to  Roe  Head,  in  January, 
1831,  Bran  well  worked  with  his  sisters  in  pro- 
ducing their  monthly  magazine,  with  its  youthful 
stories.1  Mrs.  Gaskell  has  quoted  Charlotte's 
introduction  to  the  '  Tales  of  the  Islanders,'  one 
of  these  'Little  Magazines,'  dated  June,  182P, 
from  which  it  appears  that  a  remark  of  Branwell's 
led  to  the  composition  of  the  play  of  that  name, 
and  that  he  chose  the  Isle  of  Man  as  his  territory, 
and  named  John  Bull,  Astley  Cooper,  and  Leigh 
Hunt  as  the  chief  men  in  it.  Charlotte  gives 
the  dates  of  most  of  their  productions.  She  says  : 
'  Our  plays  were  established,  "  Young  Men," 
June,  1826;  "Our  Fellows,"  July,  1827; 
"Islanders,"  December,  1827.  These  are  our 
three  great  plays  that  are  not  kept  secret. 
Emily's  and  my  best  plays  were  established  the 

1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  v. 


1st  of  December,  1827  ;  the  others  March,  1828. 
Best  plays  mean  secret  plays ;  they  are  very  nice 
ones.  All  our  plays  are  very  strange  ones.  Their 
nature  I  need  not  write  on  paper,  for  I  think  I 
shall  always  remember  them.  The  "  Young 
Men's"  play  took  its  rise  from  some  wooden 
soldiers  Branwell  had ;  "  Our  Fellows"  from 
"JEsop's  Fables;"  and  the  "Islanders"  from 
several  events  which  happened.'  ] 

It  would  be  difficult  to  arrive  at  a  correct 
understanding  of  the  literary  value  of  these  pro- 
ductions of  the  youthful  Brontes,  but  it  would  be 
interesting  to  know  what  kind  of  assistance 
Branwell  was  able  to  give  in  the  work,  as  well 
as  what  was  the  general  merit  of  these  early 
compositions.  Mrs.  Gaskell  makes  some  mention 
of  Branwell's  literary  abilities  in  his  youth.  It  is 
certain,  from  all  we  know,  that  his  mind  was  as 
much  occupied  in  these  matters  as  his  sisters', 
and  that  his  ambition  corresponded  with  theirs. 
It  has,  indeed,  been  placed  on  record  by  Mrs. 
Gaskell  that  he  was  associated  with  his  sisters 
in  the  compilation  of  their  youthful  writings. 

1  GaskelTs  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap  v. 


This  author  says,  also,  that  their  youthful  occu- 
pations were  '  mostly  of  a  sedentary  and  intel- 
lectual nature.'1 

Among  the  youthful  stories  of  which  Charlotte, 
as  has  been  already  mentioned,  wrote  a  catalogue 
or  list,  there  was  one,  of  which  Mrs.  Gaskell  has 
published  a  fragment  in  fac-simile,  written  in  a 
small,  elaborate,  and  cramped  hand — so  small, 
indeed,  as  to  be  of  little  use  to  the  general 
reader.  In  the  'Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  this 
was  inserted  as  a  specimen  of  the  hand-writing. 
It  shows  truly  the  literary  ability,  dramatic  skill, 
and  force  of  imagination  of  the  children  at  the 
period  of  their  lives  of  which  I  speak,  and  affords 
an  interesting  specimen  of  the  character  of  these 
early  works.  A  few  extracts  from  it  may  be 
given  here  : — 


A  dead  silence  had  reigned  in  the  Home 
Office  of  Verdopolis  for  three  hours  in  the  morn- 
ing of  a  fine  summer's  day,  interrupted  only  by 
such  sounds  as  the  scraping  of  a  pen-knife,  the 

1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  v. 


dropping  of  a  ruler,  or  an  occasional  cough  ;  or 
whispered  now  and  then  some  brief  mandate, 
uttered  by  the  noble  first  secretary,  in  his  com- 
manding tones.  At  length  that  sublime  person- 
age, after  completing  some  score  or  so  of 
despatches,  addressing  a  small  slightly-built 
young  gentleman  who  occupied  the  chief  situa- 
tion among  the  clerks,  said : 

'  Mr.  Rymer,  will  you  be  good  enough  to  tell 
me  what  o'clock  it  is  ?' 

'  Certainly,  my  lord  !'  was  the  prompt  reply 
as,  springing  from  his  seat,  the  ready  underling, 
instead  of  consulting  his  watch  like  other  people, 
hastened  to  the  window  in  order  to  mark  the 
sun's  situation;  having  made  his  observation,  he 
answered :  '  'Tis  twelve  precisely,  my  lord.' 

'  Very  well,'  said  the  marquis.  '  You  may  all 
give  up  then,  and  see  that  all  your  desks  are 
locked,  so  that  not  a  scrap  of  paper  is  left  to  litter 
the  office.  Mr.  Rymer,  I  shall  expect  you  to  take 
care  that  my  directions  are  fulfilled.'  So  saying, 
he  assumed  his  hat  and  gloves,  and  with  a  stately 
tread  was  approaching  the  vestibule,  when  a 
slight  bustle  and  whispering  among  the  clerks 
arrested  his  steps. 

VOL.  I.  H 


'  What  is  the  matter  ?'  asked  he,  turning 
round.  '  I  hope  these  are  not  sounds  of  con- 
tention I  hear !' 

'1— and — '  said  a  broad,  carrotty-locked  young 
man  of  a  most  pugnacious  aspect,  «  but — but — 
your  lordship  has  forgotten  that — that ' 

«  That  what  ?'  asked  the  marquis,  rather  im- 

'Oh! — merely  that  this  afternoon  is  a  half- 
holiday — and — and ' 

'I  understand,'  replied  his  superior,  smiling, 
4  you  need  not  tax  your  modesty  with  further 
explanation,  Flanagan ;  the  truth  is,  I  suppose, 
you  want  your  usual  largess,  and  I'm  obliged  to 
you  for  reminding  me — will  that  doT  he  con- 
tinued, as,  opening  his  pocket-book,  he  took 
out  a  twenty-pound  bank  bill  and  laid  it  on  the 
nearest  desk. 

*  My  lord,  you  are  too  generous,'  Flanagan 
answered ;  but  the  chief  secretary  laughingly 
laid  his  gloved  hand  on  his  lips,  and,  with  a 
condescending  nod  to  the  other  clerks,  sprang 
down  the  steps  of  the  portico  and  strode  hastily 
away,  in  order  to  escape  the  noisy  expressions 
of  gratitude  which  now  hailed  his  liberality. 


On  the  opposite  side  of  the  busy  and  wide 
-street  to  that  on  which  the  splendid  Home 
Office  stands,  rises  the  no  less  splendid  Colonial 
Office ;  and,  just  as  Arthur,  Marquis  of  Douro, 
left  the  former  structure,  Edward  Stanley  Syd- 
ney departed  from  the  latter  :  they  met  in  the 
centre  of  the  street. 

'  Well,  Ned,'  said  my  brother,  as  they  shook 
hands,  '  how  are  you  to-day  ?  I  should  think 
this  bright  sun  and  sky  ought  to  enliven  you  if 
anything  can.' 

'  Why,  my  dear  Douro,'  replied  Mr.  Sydney, 
with  a  faint  smile,  «  such  lovely,  genial  weather 
may,  and  I  have  no  doubt  does,  elevate  the 
spirits  of  the  free  and  healthy ;  but  for  me, 
whose  mind  and  body  are  a  continual  prey  to 
all  the  heaviest  cares  of  public  and  private  life, 
it  signifies  little  whether  sun  cheer  or  rain  damp 
the  atmosphere.' 

'  Edward,'  replied  Arthur,  his  features  at  the 
same  time  assuming  that  disagreeable  expres- 
sion which  my  landlord  denominates  by  the 
term  '  scorney ;'  '  now  don't  begin  to  bore  me, 
Ned,  with  trash  of  that  description,  I'm  tired  of 
it  quite  :  pray  have  you  recollected  that  to-day 



is   a   half-holiday  in    all    departments    of    the 
Treasury  ?' 

1  Yes ;  and  the  circumstance  has  cost  me  some 
money ;  these  silly  old  customs  ought  to  be 
abolished  in  my  opinion — they  are  ruinous.' 

'Why,  what  have  you  given  the  poor 
fellows  V 

'  Two  sovereigns ;'  an  emphatic  hem  formed 
Arthur's  reply  to  the  communication. 

They  had  now  entered  Nokel  Street,  and 
were  proceeding  in  silence  past  the  line  of  mag- 
nificent shops  which  it  contains,  when  the  sound 
of  wheels  was  heard  behind  them,  and  a  smooth- 
rolling  chariot  dashed  up  and  stopped  just  where 
they  stood.  One  of  the  window-glasses  now 
fell,  a  white  hand  was  put  out  and  beckoned 
them  to  draw  near,  while  a  silvery  voice  said, 

'  Mr.  Sidney,  Marquis  of  Douro,  come  hither 
a  moment.' 

Both  the  gentlemen  obeyed  the  summons, 
Arthur  with  alacrity,  Sidney  with  reluctance. 

<  What  are  your  commands,  fair  ladies  T  said 
the  former,  bowing  respectfully  to  the  inmates 
of  the  carriage,  who  were  Lady  Julia  Sidney 
and  Lady  Maria  Sneaky. 


'  Our  commands  are  principally  for  your  com- 
panion, my  lord,  not  for  you,'  replied  the 
daughter  of  Alexander  the  First ;  *  now,  Mr. 
Sidney,'  she  continued,  smiling  on  the  senator, 
'  you  must  promise  not  to  be  disobedient.' 

'  Let  me  first  know  what  I  am  required  to 
perform,'  was  the  cautious  answer,  accompanied 
by  a  fearful  glance  at  the  shops  around. 

*  Nothing  of  much  consequence,  Edward,'  said 
his  wife,  '  but  I  hope  you'll  not  refuse  to  oblige 
me  this  once,  love.  I  only  want  a  few  guineas 
to  make  out  the  price  of  a  pair  of  earrings  I  have 
just  seen  in  Mr.  Lapis's  shop.' 

'  Not  a  bit  of  it,'  answered  he.  *  Not  a  far- 
thing will  I  give  you :  it  is  scarce  three  weeks 
since  you  received  your  quarter's  allowance, 
and  if  that  is  done  already  you  may  suffer  for 

With  this  decisive  reply,  he  instinctively 
thrust  his  hands  into  his  breeches'  pockets,  and 
marched  off  with  a  hurried  step. 

'  Stingy  little  monkey !'  exclaimed  Lady  Julia, 
sinking  back  on  the  carriage-seat,  while  the 
bright  flush  of  anger  and  disappointment  crim- 
soned her  fair  cheek.  '  This  is  the  way  he 


always  treats  me,  but  I'll  make  him  suffer  for 

'  Do  not  discompose  yourself  so  much,  my 
dear,'  said  her  companion,  (  my  purse  is  at  your 
service,  if  you  will  accept  it.' 

'  I  am  sensible  of  your  goodness,  Maria,  but 
of  course  I  shall  not  take  advantage  of  it ;  no, 
no,  I  can  do  without  the  earrings — it  is  only  a 
fancy,  though  to  be  sure  I  would  rather  have 

'  My  pretty  cousin,'  observed  the  marquis, 
who,  till  now,  had  remained  a  quiet  though 
much-amused  spectator  of  the  whole  scene, '  you 
are  certainly  one  of  the  most  extravagant 
young  ladies  I  know  :  why,  what  on  earth 
can  you  possibly  want  with  these  trinkets  ?  To 
my  knowledge  you  have  at  least  a  dozen  differ- 
ent sorts  of  ear-ornaments.' 

'  That  is  true ;  but  then  these  are  quite  of 
another  kind  ;  they  are  so  pretty  and  unique  that 
I  could  not  help  wishing  for  them.' 

*  Well,  since  your  heart  is  so  much  set  upon 
the  baubles,  I  will  see  whether  my  purse  can 
compass  their  price,  if  you  will  allow  me  to 
accompany  you  to  Mr.  Lapis's.' 


'  Oh  !  thank  you,  Arthur,  you  are  very  kind,' 
said  Lady  Julia,  and  both  the  ladies  quickly 
made  room  for  him  as  he  sprang  in  and  seated 
himself  between  them. 

In  a  few  minutes  they  reached  the  jeweller's 
shop.  Mr.  Lapis  received  them  with  an  obse- 
quious bow,  and  proceeded  to  display  his  glit- 
tering stores.  The  pendants  which  had  so 
fascinated  Lady  Julia  were  in  the  form  of  two 
brilliant  little  humming-birds,  whose  jewelled 
plumage  equalled  if  not  surpassed  the  bright 
hues  of  nature  .... 

This  gay  and  pleasant  fragment  of  a  story,  in 
which  the  characters  and  scenes  are  so  freshly 
drawn,  may  well  be  imagined  as  one  of  the 
best,  if  not  the  best,  of  these  productions  of  the 
Bronte  children.  We  may,  indeed,  regard  the 
spirit  and  style  of  these  early  stories  as  the  out- 
come of  their  eager  and  observant  reading  of 
the  magazine  and  newspaper  articles  within 
their  reach — when  their  plastic  minds  would  re- 
ceive indelible  impressions,  from  which  they, 
perhaps  without  knowing  it,  acquired  the  know- 


ledge  and  practice  of  accurate  literary  composi- 
tion, and  of  how  to  clothe  their  thoughts  in  fit- 
ting words.  Their  retentive  memories,  and  their 
intuitive  faculty  of  putting  things,  brought 
them  thus  early  to  the  threshold  of  the  re- 
public of  letters.  Mrs.  Gaskell  states  that  these 
works  were  principally  written  by  Charlotte  in 
a  hand  so  small  as  to  be  t  almost  impossible  to 
decipher  without  the  aid  of  a  magnifying  glass.' 
The  specimen  she  gives  is  written  in  an  upright 
hand,  and  was  an  attempt  to  represent  the 
stories  in  a  kind  of  print,  as  near  as  might  be  to 
type.  If,  however,  Charlotte  and  Emily  ever 
accustomed  themselves  in  these  early  works  to 
this  diminutive  type-like  writing,  they  threw  it 
off  completely  in  after  years.  This,  Branwell 
never  did,  and  Mrs.  Gaskell's  fac-simile  page  is 
not  without  some  resemblance  to  one  of  his 
ordinary  pages  of  manuscript  reduced  in  size. 

Mr.  T.  Wemyss  Reid  observes  that  Mrs.  Gas- 
kell, in  speaking  of  the  juvenile  performances  of 
the  Bronte  children,  '  paid  exclusive  attention  to 
Charlotte's  productions.'  *  All  readers  of  the 
Bronte  story,'  he  says,  '  will  remember  the 
account  of  the  play  of  "  The  Islanders/'  and 


other  remarkable  specimens,  showing  with  what 
•real  vigour  and  originality  Charlotte  could 
handle  her  pen  while  she  was  still  in  the  first 
years  of  her  teens.'  And  he  adds  that '  those  few 
persons  who  have  seen  the  whole  of  the  juvenile 
library  of  the  family  bear  testimony  to  the  fact 
that  Branwell  and  Emily  were  at  least  as  in- 
dustrious and  successful  as  Charlotte  herself.'1 

Even  at  this  early  period  the  youthful  Brontes 
had  read  industriously.  '  Blackwood's  Magazine  ' 
had,  as  early  as  the  year  1829,  asserted  itself  to 
Charlotte's  childish  taste  as  'the  most  able 
periodical  there  is,'  and  ever  afterwards  the 
whole  family  looked  with  the  greatest  pleasure 
for  the  brilliant  essays  of  Christopher  North  and 
his  coterie.  Of  other  papers  they  s"aw  '  John 
Bull '  and  the  '  Leeds  Intelligencer,'  both  un- 
compromising Conservatives,  and  the  '  Leeds 
Mercury,'  of  the  opposite  party.  The  youthful 
Brontes  were  also  readers  of  the  '  British  Essay- 
ists,' '  The  Rambler,'  '  The  Mirror,'  and  « The 
Lounger,'  and  they  were  great  admirers  of 

1  '  Charlotte  Bronte,  a  monograph,'  p.  27. 


But  the  advice  which  Charlotte  afterwards 
gave  to  her  friend  *  E,'  with  regard  'to  books  for 
perusal,  shows  that  their  reading  had  been 
much  wider :  Shakespeare,  Milton,  Thomson, 
Goldsmith,  Pope,  Byron,  Campbell,  and  Words- 
worth ;  Hume,  Rollin,  and  the  '  Universal  History  ;r 
Johnson's 'Poets,'  Bos  well's 'Johnson,'  Southey's 
*  Nelson,'  Lockhart's  '  Burns,'  Moore's  '  Sheridan,' 
Moore's  '  Byron,'  and  Wolfe's  '  Remains ;'  and  for 
natural  history,  she  recommends  Bewick,  Andu- 
bon,  White,  and,  strangely  enough,  Goldsmith. 
Branwell's  favourite  poets  were  Wordsworth 
and  the  melancholy  Cowper,  whose  '  Castaway  ' 
he  was  always  fond  of  quoting.  The  Brontes, 
in  their  young  years,  obtained  much  of  their  in- 
tellectual food  from  the  circulating  library  at 

The  extraordinary  literary  activity  which 
prompted  these  children  never  afterwards  left 
them  ;  and  Branwell,  along  with  his  sisters,  was, 
as  we  have  seen,  the  author  of  many  effusions 
of  remarkable  character.  But,  as  time  passed 
on,  and  experience  was  gained,  his  literary  pro- 
ductions began  to  acquire  more  vigour  and 
polish.  Yet  the  tone  of  his  mind,  however  joy- 


ous  it  might  be  at  times,  recurred,  when  the 
immediate  occasion  had  passed,  to  that  pensive 
melancholy  which,  throughout  his  life,  was  his 
most  marked  characteristic. 

Mr.  Bronte  looked  with  supreme  pleasure  on 
the  growing  talents  of  his  children ;  but  his 
principal  hope  was  centred  in  his  son,  who,  as 
he  fondly  trusted,  should  add  lustre  to  and  per- 
petuate his  name.  The  boy,  in  these  years,  Avas 
precocious  and  lively,  overflowing  with  humour 
and  jollity,  ready  to  crack  a  joke  with  the 
rustics  he  met,  and  all  the  time  gathering  in, 
with  the  quickest  perception,  impressions,  both 
for  good  and  ill,  of  human  nature.  Mr.  Bronte 
sedulously,  to  the  utmost  of  his  power,  attend- 
ing to  the  education  of  Branwell,  did  not  see  the 
instability  of  his  son's  character,  or  did  not 
apprehend  any  mischief  from  the  acquaintances 
he  had  formed. 

The  incumbent  of  Haworth  had  distinct  liter- 
ary leanings,  and  it  delighted  him  to  find  that 
his  sou  had  manifested  literary  capacity.  It 
has  been  urged  as  somewhat  of  a  reproach 
against  Mr.  Bronte  that  he  did  not  send  Bran- 
Avell  to  a  public  school,  but  relied  solely  upon 


his  own  tutorship  for  his  son's  education.  Situ- 
ated as  Mr.  Bronte  was,  such  a  step  as  that 
said  to  have  been  recommended  to  him  was 
unnecessary.  The  Grammar  School  adjoining 
was  under  the  snperintendance  of  a  master  who 
was  well  qualified  to  give  a  higher  education 
to  his  pupils,  if  required ;  and  Mr.  Bronte  him- 
self was  equally  well  able  to  do  the  same,  but 
his  daily  duties  within  his  chapelry  left  him 
little  or  no  time  to  take  upon  himself  the  entire 
education  of  his  son :  all  he  could  do  was  to 
watch  and  ascertain  occasionally  how  he  was 
progressing.  Mr.  Bronte,  indeed,  might  have 
given  the  finishing  touches  to  his  son's  instruc- 
tion. Those,  however,  who  knew  the  brilliant 
youth  in  the  ripeness  of  his  early  manhood, 
recognized  the  extent  of  the  knowledge  he 
had  acquired,  and  felt,  too,  that  he  had  been 
sufficiently  well-trained  to  know  how  to  put 
it  to  good  use. 




Charlotte  goes  to  Roe  Head  —  Return  Home  —  Branwell  at 
the  Time  —  The  Companion  of  his  Sisters  —  Escort* 
Charlotte  on  a  Visit  —  He  becomes  Interested  in 
Pugilism  —  His  Education  —  His  Love  for  Music  —  His 
Retentive  Memory  —  His  Personal  Appearance  —  His 

LITTLE  more  of  interest  seems  to  be  known 
concerning  the  Bronte's  prior  to  the  year  1831r 
but  it  is  very  apparent  that  Mr.  Bronte  ex- 
ercised a  large  influence  in  the  formation  of  his 
children's  habits  and  characters.  He,  for  in- 
stance, had  a  study  in  which  he  spent  a  con- 
siderable portion  of  his  time.  The  children  had 
their  study  also.  Mr.  Bronte  had  written  poems 
and  tales,  and  was  wont  to  tell  strange  stories 
at  the  breakfast-table.  The  children  imitated 
him  in  these  things.  Mr.  Bronte  took  an  en- 


thusiastic  interest  in  all  political  matters ;  and 
here  the  children  followed  him  also.  In  short, 
they  copied  him  in  almost  everything.  After- 
wards, he  was  accustomed  to  hold  himself  up  as 
an  example  for  their  guidance,  and  to  tell  them 
how  he  had  struggled  and  worked  his  way  to 
the  position  he  held ;  and  there  is  no  doubt 
that  his  children  had  a  great  admiration  for  his 

Miss  Branwell's  influence  was  altogether  dis- 
tinct from  that  of  Mr.  Bronte.  While  taking  pride 
in  the  mental  ability  of  her  nephew,  she  aimed 
at  making  his  sisters  into  good  housewives 
and  patterns  of  domestic  and  unobtrusive  virtue. 
With  this  object,  turning  her  bed-chamber  into 
a  school-room,  she  taught  them  to  sew  and  to 
embroider;  and  they  occupied  their  time  in 
making  charity  clothing,  a  work  which  she 
maintained  '  was  not  for  the  good  of  the  recipi- 
ents, but  of  the  sewers ;  it  was  proper  for  them 
to  .  do  it.'  Under  Miss  Branwell  they  likewise 
learned  to  clean,  to  wash,  to  bake,  to  cook,  to 
make  jams  and  jellies,  with  many  other  domes- 
tic mysteries ;  and  here,  as  in  everything  else, 
they  were  apt  pupils. 

YOUTH.  Ill 

But,  towards  the  end  of  the  year  1830,  it  was 
decided  that  Charlotte  should  seek  a  wider  train- 
ing elsewhere ;  and  a  school,  kept  by  Miss 
Wooler,  at  Roe  Head,  between  Leeds  and  Hud- 
dersfield,  was  fixed  upon.  It  was  a  quaint,  old- 
fashioned  house,  standing  in  a  pleasant  country, 
which  had  an  interest  for  Charlotte,  for  it  lay 
not  far  from  Hartshead,  where  her  father's  first 
Yorkshire  curacy  had  been.  This  circumstance, 
together  with  the  proximity  of  the  remains  of 
Kirklees  priory — which  had  their  traditions  of 
Robin  Hood — and  the  strange  local  stories  she 
heard  from  Miss  Wooler,  led  her  afterwards  to 
make  this  district  the  scene  of  her  novel  of 
*  Shirley.'  Miss  Wooler  was  a  kind,  motherly 
lady  who  took  an  interest  in  each  one  of  her 
pupils.  She  had  long  been  a  keen  observer, 
and  knew  well  how  to  put  her  knowledge  to 
use  in  tuition.  In  this  school,  Charlotte,  a  girl 
of  sixteen,  was  an  indefatigable  student,  scarce- 
ly resting  in  her  pursuit  of  knowledge.  She 
was  not  exactly  sociable,  and  sat  often  alone 
with  her  book  in  play-hours — a  thin  fragile  girl, 
whose  brown  hair  overshadowed  the  page  on 
which  her  eyes,  '  those  expressive  orbs,'  were 


so  intently  fixed.  Her  companions  remarked  at 
that  time  that  she  had  a  great  store  of  out-of- 
the-way  knowledge,  while  on  some  points  of 
general  information  she  was  comparatively  ig- 
norant. But  when  Charlotte  left  Roe  Head,  in 
June,  1832,  she  returned  to  the  parsonage  at 
Haworth  with  more  expanded  ideas,  and  with 
wider  knowledge,  and  possessing,  perhaps,  a 
keener  relish  for  the  delights  of  the  literary 
world.  At  Roe  Head  Charlotte  made  the  ac- 
quaintance of  her  life-long  friend  '  E,'  and  also 
of  Mary  and  Martha  '  T.' 

The  family  of  Bronte  appears,  about  this  time, 
to  have  been  in  perfect  peace.  Charlotte  had 
corresponded  with  Bramvell  when  she  was  at 
Roe  Head,  as  a  .pupil  of  Miss  Wooler ;  and  Mrs. 
Gaskell  has  published  portions  of  a  letter  sent 
from  that  place  to  him  on  May  17th,  1832,  when  he 
was  in  his  fifteenth  year,  in  which  she  showed  her 
old  political  leanings  wherein  Branwell  shared. 
It  runs :  '  Lately  I  had  begun  to  think  that  I  had 
lost  all  interest  which  I  used  formerly  to  take  in 
politics ;  but  the  extreme  pleasure  I  felt  at  the 
news  of  the  Reform  Bill's  being  thrown  out  by 
the  House  of  Lords,  and  of  the  expulsion,  or 

YOUTH.  113 

resignation,  of  Earl  Grey,  &c.,  convinced  me  that 
I  have  not  as  yet  lost  all  my  penchant  for  politics. 
I  am  extremely  glad  that  aunt  has  consented  to 
take  in  "Fraser's  Magazine;"  for  though  I  know 
from  your  description  of  its  general  contents  it 
will  be  rather  uninteresting  when  compared  with 
"  Blackwood,"  still  it  will  be  better  than  remaining 
the  whole  year  without  being  able  to  obtain  a 
sight  of  any  periodical  whatever ;  and  such 
would  assuredly  be  the  case,  as,  in  the  little  wild 
moor-land  village  where  we  reside,  there  would 
be  no  possibility  of  borrowing  a  work  of  this 
description  from  a  circulating  library.  I  hope 
with  you  that  the  present  delightful  weather 
may  contribute  to  the  perfect  restoration  of  our 
dear  papa's  health ;  and  that  it  may  give  aunt 
pleasant  reminiscences  of  the  salubrious  climate 
of  her  native  place.'  1 

Charlotte's  political  principles  were  strongly 
Conservative,  as  were  those  of  her  father,  brother, 
and  eisters,  and  these  principles  were  inten- 
sified in  them  all  by  their  religious  opinions. 
They  held,  consistently  enough,  the  cherished 
political  convictions  of  their  party,  and  they 
1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  vi. 


looked  upon  every  concession  made  to  liberal 
clamour  as  an  inroad  on  the  very  vitals  of  the 
Constitution.  Hence  the  jubilation  of  Charlotte 
when  the  Reform  Bill  was  rejected  by  the  House 
of  Lords  on  October  7th,  1831.  But  the  march 
of  events,  in  after  years,  modified  their  political 
opinions  considerably. 

Branwell  at  this  period,  while  still  under 
tuition  at  home,  was  the  constant  companion  of 
his  sisters,  and  frequently  accompanied  them  on 
their  visits  to  the  moors  and  picturesque  places 
in  the  neighbourhood.  'E,'  writing  in  '  Scribuer,' 
says  :  '  Charlotte's  first  visit  from  Haworth  was 
made  about  three  mouths  after  she  left  school. 
She  travelled  in  a  two-wheeled  gig,  the  only 
conveyance  to  be  had  in  Haworth  except  the 
covered-cart  which  brought  her  to  school.  Mr. 
Bronte  sent  Branwell  as  an  escort;  .he  was  then 
a  very  dear  brother,  as  dear  to  Charlotte  as  her 
own  soul ;  they  were  in  perfect  accord  of  taste 
and  feeling,  and  it  was  a  mutual  delight  to  be 
together.  Branwell  had  probably  never  been 
from  home  before ;  he  was  in  wild  ecstacy  with 
everything.  He  walked  about  in  unrestrained 
boyish  enjoyment,  taking  views  in  every  direc- 

YOUTH.  115 

tion  of  the  turret-roofed  house,  the  fine  chestnut- 
trees  on  the  lawn  (one  tree  especially  interested 
him  because  it  was  iron-girthed,  having  been 
split  by  storms,  but  still  flourishing  in  great 
majesty),  and  a  large  rookery,  which  gave  to  the 
house  a  good  background — all  these  he  noted 
and  commented  upon  with  perfect  enthusiasm. 
He  told  his  sister  he  was  leaving  her  in  Paradise, 
and  if  she  were  not  intensely  happy  she  never 
would  be  !  Happy,  indeed,  she  then  was  in  him- 
.self,  for  she,  with  her  own  enthusiasm,  looked 
forward  to  what  her  brother's  great  promise  and 
talent  might  effect.  He  would  be,  at  this  time, 
between  fifteen  and  sixteen  years  of  age.1 

In  the  June  of  1833,  when  Branwell  was  about 
this  age,  we  learn  that  he  drove  his  sisters  with 
great  delight  in  a  trap,  or  dog-cart,  to  Bolton 
Bridge,  to  meet  their  friend  '  E,'  who  waited  for 
the  young  Brontes  in  a  carriage  at  the  '  Devon- 
shire Arms.'  2  This  was  a  visit  to  the  ancient 
abbey  and  immemorial  woods  and  vales  of 
Bolton.  We  may  well  imagine  from  the  time 
of  the  year — the  'leafy  month  of  June,'  when 

1  Scribner,  ii.,  18,  '  Reminiscences  of  Charlotte  Bronte.' 
*  Reid's  '  Charlotte  Bronte,  a  Monograph,'  p.  29. 

i  2 


all  nature  would  be  glad,  and  the  deep  woods 
gay  with  varied  leaves,  while  the  Wharfe,  of 
amber  hue,  foamed  and  rushed  impetuously 
down  its  rocky  channel,  from  the  moorland  hills 
above  historic  Barden,  to  the  peaceful  meads  of 
the  ruined  abbey — that  the  hearts  of  the  Brontes 
rejoiced,  enchanted  and  impressed  by  these 
glorious  and  stately  solitudes. 

It  cannot  but  be  regretted  that,  while  his 
sisters  could  confer  in  confidence  and  familiarity 
together,  and  enjoy  a  community  of  interests  in 
secrecy  and  affection,  Branwell  had  no  brother 
whose  sympathetic  counsel  he  could  embrace ; 
but,  thrown  back  upon  himself,  was  led  to  seek 
the  society  of  appreciative  friends,  who  made 
him  acquainted  with  the  manners  and  customs 
of  the  world,  and  the  vices  of  society,  before  his 
time  had  yet  come  to  know  much  concerning 
them.  It  was,  indeed,  unfortunately,  no  infrequent 
circumstance  to  see  the  plastic,  light-hearted, 
unsuspecting  Branwell  listening  to  the  coarse 
jokes  of  the  sexton  of  Haworth — the  noted  John 
Brown — while  that  functionary  was  employed  in 
digging  the  graves  so  often  opened  in  the  church- 
yard, under  the  shadow  of  the  parsonage. 

YOUTH.  117 

It  was  the  kind  of  society  iu  which  he  sought 
relaxation  at  Haworth  that  led  him  to  take  an 
interest,  which  he  long  retained,  in  the  pugilistic 
ring.  The  interest  in  pugilism  and  the  '  noble 
art,'  it  must,  however,  be  remembered,  had  been 
made  fashionable  by  wealthy,  influential,  and 
titled  people,  amongst  whom  was  Lord  Byron, 
and  by  the  fops  and  dandies  of  an  earlier  period. 
Jackson,  the  noted  professor,  was  a  great  friend 
of  the  poet,  and,  on  several  occasions,  visited 
him  at  Newstead.  Early  in  this  century,  too, 
many  men  about  town  were  accustomed  to 
assemble  for  practice  at  the  academy  of  Angelo 
and  Jackson.  Branwell,  also,  read  with  eager- 
ness the  columns  of  '  Bell's  Life  in  London,'  and 
other  sporting  papers  of  the  day.  The  names 
and  personal  appearance  of  the  celebrated  pugil- 
ists who,  at  that  time,  to  the  delight  of  the  elite 
of  society,  pounded  each  other  till  they  were  un- 
like anything  human — for  the  applause  of  the 
multitude,  and  the  honour  of  wearing  the 
4  Champion's  Belt,' — were  familiar  to  him.  '  Bell's 
Life  '  was  taken  in  by  an  innkeeper  at  Haworth  ; 
aud  the  members  of  the  village  boxing-club,  one 
of  whom  was  Branwell,  were  posted  up  in  all 


public  matters  relating  to  the  *  noble  art  of  self- 
defence.'  They  had  sundry  boxing-gloves,  andr 
at  intervals,  amused  themselves  with  sparring  in 
an  upper  room  of  a  building  at  Haworth.  These 
practices,  at  the  time  of  which  we  speak,  were 
but  boyish  amusements,  and  were  no  doubt 
congenial  to  the  animal  spirits  and  energetic 
temperaments  of  those  who  entered  into  them, 
and  they  were  so  more  especially  to  Branwell, 
who  had  abundance  of  both.  But  it  may  be- 
that  here  he  became  acquainted  with  young- 
men  whose  habits  and  conduct  had  a  deleterious 
influence  upon  him  at  the  very  opening  of  his 
career.  If,  however,  Branwell's  high  spirit 
allowed  him  sometimes  to  be  led  away  by  his> 
companions,  his  natural  goodness  of  heart 
brought  a  ready  and  vehement  repentance.  The 
respect  he  felt  for  his  father's  calling,  magnified,, 
in  his  eyes,  any  fault  of  his  own — who  ought  to 
have  been  more  than  ordinarily  good — and,  ex- 
aggerating his  failings,  he  would  lament  his 
'  dreadful  conduct '  in  deep  distress.  Such  un- 
mistakable evidences  of  sincerity  and  truthful- 
ness procured  him  a  ready  pardon.  He  was 
necessarily  his  aunt's  favourite ;  but  he  attached 

YOUTH.  119 

himself  to  all  about  him  with  so  much  readiness 
of  affection  that  it  is  quite  evident,  whatever 
his  youthful  faults,  they  were  of  a  superficial 
character  only. 

The  studies  which  Branwell  pursued  in  his 
youth  were  noticed  by  his  literary  friends,  in 
after  years,  to  bear  a  considerable  fruit  of 
classical  knowledge.  He  possessed  then  a 
familiar  and  extensive  acquaintance  with  the 
Greek  and  Latin  authors.  He  knew  well  the 
history  and  condition  of  Europe,  and  of  this 
country,  in  past  and  present  times ;  and  his  con- 
versational powers  on  these,  and  the  current 
literature  of  the  day,  were  of  the  highest  order. 
Mr.  Bronte  had  obtained  musical  tuition  for  his 
son  and  daughters,  and  Branwell  was  enthusi- 
astically fond  of  sacred  music,  and  could  play 
the  organ.  He  was  acquainted  with  the  works 
of  the  great  composers  of  recent  and  former 
times ;  and,  although  he  could  not  perform  their 
elaborate  compositions  well,  he  was  always  so 
excited  when  they  were  played  for  him  by  his 
friends  that  he  would  walk  about  the  room 
with  measured  footsteps,  his  eyes  raised  to  the 
ceiling,  accompanying  the  music  with  his  voice 


in  an  impassioned    manner,  and  beating  time 
with  his  hand  on  the  chairs  as  he  passed  to  and 
fro.     He  was  an   enthusiastic   admirer   of    the 
oratorio  of  '  Samson,'  which    Handel    deemed 
equal  to  the  'Messiah,'  and  of  the  Mass-music  of 
Haydn,  Mozart,  and  others.     Religion  had,  in- 
deed,   been    deeply    implanted    in    Branwell's 
breast ;  but,  whenever  he  heard  sacred  music  like 
this,  his  devotional  impressions  were  deepened, 
and  even  in  times   of  temptation,  indulgence, 
and  folly  the  influence  of  early  piety  was  never 
effaced.     Among  his  minor  accomplishments,  he 
had  acquired  the  practice  of  writing  short-hand 
with  facility,  and  also  of  writing  with  both  hands 
at  the  same  time  with  perfect  ease,  so  that  he 
possessed  the   extraordinary  power  of  writing 
two  letters  at  once.     His  hand-writing  was  of 
an   upright   character.     Branwell,   too,    had    a 
wonderful  power  of  observation,  and  a  most  re- 
tentive memory.     It  is  on  record  that,  before  he 
visited  London,  he  so  mastered  its  labyrinths,  by 
a   diligent   study  of  maps  and  books,  that  he 
spoke   with   a  perfect   knowledge   of   it,    and 
astonished  inhabitants  of  the  metropolis  by  his 
intimate  acquaintance  with  by-ways  and  places 

YOUTH.  121 

of  which  they  even  had  never  heard.  In  person 
he  was  rather  below  the  middle  height,  but  of 
refined  and  gentleman-like  appearance,  and  of 
graceful  manners.  His  complexion  was  fair  and 
his  features  handsome  ;  his  mouth  and  chin  were 
well-shaped;  his  nose  was  prominent  and  of  the 
Roman  type ;  his  eyes  sparkled  and  danced 
with  delight,  and  his  fine  forehead  made  up  a 
face  of  oval  form  which  gave  an  irresistible 
charm  to  its  possessor,  and  attracted  the  admira- 
tion of  those  who  knew  him.  Added  to  this,  his 
address  was  simple  and  unadorned,  yet  polished  ; 
but,  being  familiar  with  the  English  language  in 
its  highest  form  of  expression,  and  with  the 
Yorkshire  and  Hibernian  patois  also,  he  could 
easily  make  use  of  the  quaintest  and  broadest 
terms  when  occasion  called  for  them.  It  was, 
indeed,  amazing  how  suddenly  he  could  pass 
from  the  discussion  of  a  grave  and  lofty  subject, 
or  from  a  deep  disquisition,  or  some  exalted 
poetical  theme,  to  one  of  his  light-hearted  and 
amusing  Irish  or  Yorkshire  sallies.  He  could  be 
sad  and  joyful  almost  at  the  same  time,  like  the 
sunshine  and  gloom  of  April  weather ;  exhibit- 
ing, by  anticipation,  the  future  lights  and 


shadows  of  his  own  sad,  short,  and  chequered! 
existence.  In  ;i  word,  he  seemed  at  times  even 
to  be  jocular  and  merry  with  gravity  itself. 

It  is  known  also  that  Bran  well,  at  that  period 
of  his  young  life — when  manhood  with  its  hopes 
and  joys,  its  enterprises  and  aspirations,  its 
affections  and  its  responsiblities,  stretched  before 
him — was  also  busily  laying,  to  the  best  of  his 
ability,  the  foundations,  as  he  trusted,  of  a 
brilliant  literary  or  artistic  future. 




Love  of  Art  in  the  Youthful  Brontes — Their  elaborate 
Drawings — J.  B.  Leyland,  Sculptor — Spartacus — Mr. 
George  Hogarth's  Opinion — Art  Exhibition  at  Leeds 
—Mr.  William  Robinson,  their  Drawing-Master — 
Branwell  aims  at  Portrait-Painting — J.  B.  Leyland  in 
London — Branwell  and  the  Royal  Academy—  He 
visits  London. 

THE  biographers  of  the  Bronte  sisters  have 
pointed  out  especially  the  artistic  instinct  of 
Charlotte  and  Emily ;  and  the  originality  and 
fidelity  of  their  written  descriptions,  and  the 
beauty  of  the  composition  and  *  colour  '  of  their 
word-paintings,  have  formed  an  inexhaustible 
theme  for  the  various  writers  on  the  excellencies 
of  Bronte  genius.  The  appreciation  of  art 
possessed  by  the  members  of  this  family, 
whether  in  drawing,  painting,  or  sculpture, 


was  manifested  early  ;  but,  though  highly  gifted 
in  felicity  and  aptness  of  verbal  expresssion  in 
describing  natural  scenery,  and  in  the  delinea- 
tion of  personal  character,  they  were  not  endow- 
ed, in  like  degree,  with  the  faculty  of  placing 
their  ideas — weird  and  wild,  or  beautiful  and 
joyous  as  they  might  be — in  that  tangible  and 
fixed  shape  in  which  artists  have  perpetuated 
the  emanations  of  their  genius.  The  devotion  of 
Charlotte  and  Branwell  to  art  was,  nevertheless, 
so  intense,  and  their  belief  was  so  profound,  at  one 
time,  that  the  art-faculty  consisted  of  little  more 
than  mechanical  dexterity,  and  could  be  obtained 
by  long  study  and  practice  in  manipulation,  that 
the  sister  toiled  incessantly  in  copying,  almost  line 
for  line,  the  grand  old  engravings  of  Woollett, 
Brown,  Fittler,  and  others  till  her  eyesight  was 
dimmed  and  blurred  by  the  sedulous  application ; 
and  Branwell,  with  the  same  belief,  eagerly 
followed  her  example.  Great  talent  and  per- 
severance they  undoubtedly  had ;  and,  although 
we  are  not  possessed  of  any  original  drawings 
by  Charlotte  of  striking  character,  we  know 
that  Branwell  drew  in  pen-and-ink  with  much 
facility,  humour,  and  originality.  His  produc- 


tions,  in  this  manner,  will  be  inoro  particularly 
noticed  in  the  course  of  this  work.  Charlotte's 
drawings  were  said  to  be  pre-Raphaelite  in  detail, 
but  they  had  no  approach  to  the  spirit  of  that 
school ;  and  Branwell's  pictures,  however  meri- 
torious they  might  be  as  likenesses  of  the  individ- 
uals they  represented,  lacked,  in  every  instance, 
that  artistic  touch  which  the  hand  of  genius  al- 
ways gives,  and  cannot  help  giving.  While  at 
school  at  Roe  Head,  Charlotte  had  been  noticed 
by  her  fellow-pupils  to  draw  better  and  more 
quickly  than  they  had  before  seen  anyone  do, 
and  we  have  been  told  by  one  of  them  that  '  she 
picked  up  every  scrap  of  information  concerning 
painting,  sculpture,  poetry,  music,  &c.,  as  if  it 
were  gold.'  The  list  she  drew  up  a  year  or 
two  earlier  of  the  great  artists  whose  works  she 
wished  to  see,  shows  us  that  her  interest  in  art, 
even  in  her  thirteenth  year,  led  her  to  read  of 
them  and  their  productions. 

On  her  return  home  in  1832,  Charlotte  wrote 
on  the  21st  July  respecting  her  course  of  life 
at  the  parsonage :  '  In.  the  morning,  from  nine 
o'clock  till  half-past  twelve,  I  instruct  my  sisters, 
and  draw  ;  then  we  walk  till  dinner-time.  After 


dinner  I  sew  till  tea-time,  and  after  tea  I  either 
write,  read,  or  do  a  little  fancy-work,  or  draw 
as  I  please.'  Charlotte  also  told  Mrs.  Gaskell 
'that,  at  this  period  of  her  life,  drawing,  and 
walking  with  her  sisters,  formed  the  two  great 
pleasures  and  relaxations  of  her  day.' 

Mr.  Bronte,  observing  that  his  son  and 
daughters  took  pleasure  in  the  art  of  drawing, 
and  believing  this  to  be  one  of  their  natural 
gifts  that  ought  to  be  cultivated,  perhaps  as  an 
accomplishment  which  they  might  some  time 
find  useful  in  tuition,  obtained  for  them  a  draw- 
ing-master. But  he  also  observed  that  Bran- 
well  excelled  his  sisters  in  the  art,  while 
he  likewise  painted  in  oils,  and  he  may  at  times 
have  had  some  hope  that  his  son  would  become 
a  distinguished  artist. 

It  is  apparent,  indeed,  that  drawing  not  only 
engaged  much  of  Charlotte's  leisure,  but  that  it 
formed  a  part  of  home-education.  Her  sisters 
as  well  as  herself  underwent  great  labour  in 
acquiring  the  art  in  these  early  years,  and 
Branwell  also  was  not  behind  them  in  industri- 
ous pursuit  of  the  same  object.  Charlotte  even 
thought  of  art  as  a  profession  for  herself;  and 


•so  strong  was  this  intention,  that  she  could 
scarcely  be  convinced  that  it  was  not  her  true 
vocation.  In  short,  her  appreciative  spirit  al- 
ways dwelt  with  indescribable  pleasure  on  works 
of  real  art,  and  she  derived,  from  their  contem- 
plation, one  of  the  chief  enjoyments  of  her  life. 
'  To  paint  them,  in  short,'  says  Jane  Eyre,  speaking 
of  the  pictures  she  is  showing  to  Mr.  Rochester, 
'was  to  enjoy  one  of  the  keenest  pleasures  I 
have  ever  known.'1  The  love  the  Brontes  thus 
cherished  for  art  became,  as  time  passed  on,  a 
passion,  and  its  cultivation  a  pressing  and  sensi- 
ble duty.  They  were  not  aware  that  their  in- 
dustry in,  and  devotion  to  it,  as  they  under- 
stood it,  were  a  misdirection  of  their  genius. 
How  far  this  love  of  it,  and  this  eagerness  to 
acquire  a  knowledge  of  the  mysteries,  of  compo- 
sition and  analysis,  and  to  bo  possessed  of 
art-practice  and  art-learning,  may  have  been 
excited  and  encouraged  by  the  success  that 
had  bsen  achieved  by  others  with  whom  they 
were  familiar,  in  the  same  direction,  may  be 

In  the  year  of  Mr.  Bronte's  appointment  to 
1  '  Jane  Eyre,'  chap.  xiii. 


Hartshead,  there  was  born,  at  Halifax,  an  artist,. 
Joseph  Bentley  Leyland,  who  was  destined  to 
become  the  personal  friend  and  inspirer  of  Mr. 
Bronte's  son,  Bran  well.  Leyland,  in  his  early  boy- 
hood, showed,  by  the  ease  and  faithfulness  with 
which  he  modelled  in  clay,  or  sketched  with 
pencil,  the  objects  that  attracted  his  attention,, 
the  direction  of  his  genius.  The  sculptor,  as  he 
grew  in  years,  treated,  with  artistic  power, 
classical  subjects  Avhich  had  not  hitherto  been 
embodied  in  sculpture.  At  the  age  of  twenty-one 
he  modelled  a  statue  of  Spartacus,  the  Thracianr 
a  general  who,  after  defeating  several  Roman 
armies  in  succession,  was  overthrown  with  his 
forces  by  Crassus  the  praetor,  and  slain.  The 
dead  leader  was  represented  at  that  moment 
after  death  before  the  muscles  have  acquired 
extreme  rigidity.  The  statue,  which  was  of 
colossal  size,  was  modelled  from  living  subjects,, 
and  was,  in  all  respects,  a  production  far  beyond 
the  sculptor's  years.  It  was  the  most  striking- 
work  of  art  at  the  Manchester  Exhibition  in  the 
year  1832,  and  was  favourably  noticed  in  the 
*  Manchester  Courier,'  on  November  the  3rd  of 
that  year.  Such  notices  were  productive  of 


increased  exertion,  which  soon  became  manifest 
in  the  creation  of  other  more  lofty  and  success- 
ful works.  Among  these  was  a  colossal  bust  of 
Satan,  some  six  feet  in  height,  which  was  pro- 
nounced to  be  '  truly  that  of  Milton's  "  Arch- 
angel ruined." '  Mr.  George  Hogarth,  the  father- 
in-law  of  Charles  Dickens — a  gentleman  of 
literary  power  and  knowledge — was  the  editor 
of  the  'Halifax  Guardian'  at  the  time,  and 
visited  the  artist's  small  studio,  where  he  saw,  in 
one  corner,  under  its  lean-to  roof,  for  the  first 
time,  the  bust  of  Satan.  He  was  astonished  at  its 
merit,  and  published  his  criticism  of  the  work  in 
the  paper  on  May  the  24th,  1834.  Leyland  was 
then  strongly  urged  to  forward  the  bust  to 
London,  which  he  did,  with  some  others  he  had 
modelled ;  and  the  critics  were  invited  to  visit 
his  studio.  The  favourable  opinion  which  Mr. 
Hogarth  published,  in  the  paper  of  which  he  was 
editor,  was  endorsed,  but  in  more  flattering- 
terms,  in  the  '  Morning  Chronicle  '  of  December 
2nd,  1834.  But  there  was  held  at  Leeds,  in  these 
years,  the  Annual  Exhibition  of  the  Northern 
Society  for  the  Encouragement  of  the  Fine 
Arts ;  and  Leyland,  before  he  sent  his  work  to 
VOL.  I.  K 


London,  included  it  in  his  contributions  to  the 
exhibition  at  Leeds. 

The  oil-paintings  and  water-colour  drawings 
that  were  hung  there,  in  the  summer  of  1834, 
appear  to  have  formed  a  fine  and  varied  collec- 
tion. There  were  beautiful  landscapes  in  water- 
colour  by  Copley  Fielding,  and  in  oil  by  Alex- 
ander Nasmyth,  John  Linnel,  Robert  Macreth  ; 
and  others  were  well  represented,  while  historical 
paintings  by  H.  Fradelle,  sea-pieces  by  Car- 
michael,  and  animal  paintings  by  Schwanfelder, 
always  good,  were  highly  creditable  to  these 
well-known  names.  A  number  of  fine  portraits 
by  William  Bewick  and  William  Robinson 
added  interest  and  beauty  to  the  galleries.  The 
reader  may  conceive,  if  he  will,  the  Brontes — 
Charlotte  and  Bran  well,  and,  it  may  be,  Mr. 
Bronte  and  Emily — enjoying  to  the  full  the 
paintings  and  sculptures  which  were  before 
them.  He  may  fancy  the  suddenly  expressed, 
'Look,  Charlotte!'  as  some  newly  discovered 
picture  flashed  as  a  keen  delight  on  the  eager 
fancy  of  Branwell's  appreciative  spirit.  He 
may  imagine  the  ready  criticism  of  Charlotte, 
and  the  attempts  which  she  and  her  brother 


made  to  divine  how  much  thought  had  gone  to 
make  up  the  composition  of  a  work.  The  young 
Bronte  critics,  as  they  looked  on  the  colossal 
head  of  Satan — on  the  stern  and  inflexible  firm- 
ness of  the  features  '  whose  superhuman  beauty 
is  yet  covered  with  a  cloud  of  the  deepest 
inelancholy  ;'  on  the  representation  '  of  the  great 
and  glorious  being  sunk  in  utter  despair,' — might 
ponder,  perhaps,  whether  an  ideal  has  dawned 
upon  the  imagination  of  the  artist,  and  so  been 
wrought  from  no  model,  but  from  the  vision  of 
his  meditations,  or  whether  success  is,  after  all, 
but  the  evidence  of  painful  elaboration.  At  any 
rate,  it  was  just  on  such  an  exhibition  of  paint- 
ings and  works  of  art  that  Charlotte  and  Bran- 
well  delighted  to  dwell  in  intelligent  and 
educated  observation. 

That  a  new  impetus  and  a  new  meaning  were 
given  to  their  art  practice  about  this  time  is 
certain,  and  it  was  probably  not  long  after  this 
date  that  Mr.  Bronte  engaged,  for  the  instruction 
of  his  son  and  daughters,  an  artist  of  Leeds,  the 
Mr.  William  Robinson  I  have  mentioned  as  having 
contributed  a  number  of  portraits  to  tho 
exhibition.  The  object  of  the  Brontes  was  now 



to  practise  painting,  and  this  able  instructor  was 
consequently  engaged. 

Mr.  Robinson  was  a  native  of  Leeds,  who  had, 
by  natural  talent  and  steady  perseverance,  ac- 
quired something  more  than  a  local  reputation. 
His  early  love  of  art  had  been  such  that  the 
wishes  of  his  friends  failed  to  divert  him  from  its 
pursuit,  and  he  received  lessons  from  Mr. 
Rhodes,  sen.,  of  Leeds,  an  admirable  painter  in 
water-colours.  But  Mr.  Robinson  had  a  strong 
predilection  for  portrait-painting,  to  which  he  had 
devoted  his  powers,  at  the  same  time  availing 
himself  of  every  opportunity  for  improving  in  its 
practice.  In  the  year  18-0,  he  visited  the  metro- 
polis, taking  with  him  an  introduction  to  Sir 
Thomas  LaAvrence,  who  received  him  with  great 
kindness,  and  he  became  a  pupil  of  this  eminent 
artist.  Sir  Thomas,  however,  with  noble  gener- 
osity, declined  any  remuneration  whatever,  and 
Robinson  assisted  his  master  in  his  work.  He 
was  introduced  to  Fuseli,  and  gained  the  privilege 
of  studying  at  the  Royal  Academy,  his  work 
being  characterized  by  the  requisite  merit.  He 
was  stimulated  to  renewed  exertion  by  this  much 
desired  success.  In  1824,  he  had  returned  to  his 


native  town,  where  he  procured  numerous  com- 
missions. He  was  subsequently  introduced  to 
Earl  de  Grey,  of  whom  he  painted  portraits,  as 
also  of  his  family.  Mr.  Robinson,  in  addition, 
painted  four  portraits  for  the  United  Service 
Club,  one  of  which  was  of  the  Duke  of  Welling- 
ton, who  honoured  him  with  several  sittings. 
Besides  these,  amongst  his  other  works,  was  a 
portrait  of  the  Princess  Sophia,  and  a  copy  of 
one  of  the  Duke  of  York  for  the  Duchess  of 
Gloucester.  It  was  from  this  gentleman  that 
Branwell  Bronte  and  his  sister  received  a  few 
lessons  in  portrait-painting  at  the  time  of  which 
1  speak,  and  a  knowledge  of  the  master's  career 
•did  not  a  little  to  fire  the  mind  of  the  enthusiastic 
Branwell  with  ardour  to  aim  in  the  same 
direction,  while  the  contemporary  efforts  of  others 
added  fuel  to  the  fire. 

At  this  time  there  were  certain  artists  of  the 
neighbourhood  who  were  trying  their  fortunes 
in  London,  and  who  were  known  to  Branwell 
Bronte  by  reputation  :  C.  H.  SchTranfelcler,  the 
animal  painter,  and  John  W.  Rhodes,  the  son  of 
the  artist  under  whom  Mr.  Robinson  had  studied. 
'The  father  of  the  latter  had  endeavoured  to 


dissuade  him  from  making' art  bis  profession,  but 
all  to  no  purpose :  the  bent  of  his  genius  could 
not  be  curbed.  He  painted  in  water-colour  and 
oil  with  great  beauty  and  fidelity ;  the  green 
lane,  the  wild  flower  hanging  from  an  old  wall, 
were  his  subjects.  His  works  met  with  well- 
deserved  encomiums  in  the  London  press,  and 
with  praise  wherever  they  were  exhibited  ;  but, 
when  full  of  aspiring  hopes,  he  was  attacked, 
like  Girtin,  Liversedge,  and  Bonnington,  by  in- 
flammation in  the  eyes,  and  ill  health.  He  died  at 
the  early  age  of  thirty-three,  and  a  memoir  of  him 
appeared  in  '  The  Art  Journal'  of  March,  1843. 
The  determination  of  Charlotte  and  Branwell  to 
take,  as  it  were,  the  Temple  of  Art  by  forcible 
possession,  was,  it  may  be  conceived,  due  also, 
in  rsome  measure,  to  the  growing  celebrity  of 
Leylaiid ;  for,  in  literature  and  art,  Halifax  was 
nearer  to  the  Brontes  than  any  of  the  surrounding 
towns.  The  praise  of  Ley  land's  works,  moreover,, 
had  been  re-published  from  the  London  press  in 
all  the  papers  of  his  native  county,  and  poetic 
eulogies  appeared  in  the  'Leeds  Intelligencer' 
and  in  the 'Leeds  Mercury;'  and,  therefore,  that 


they  were  eager  to  emulate  his  works  and  to 
equal  his  success  seems  very  probable. 

I  have  felt  it  necessary  to  mention  these 
influences,  as  they  alone  serve  to  explain  how  it 
was  that  Branwell  and  his  sister  were  led  to 
think  of,  and — as  regards  the  brother — to  persist 
for  a  time  in  making  a  profession  of  painting  for 
which  they  had  no  special  aptitude.  Branwell, 
in  fact,  designed  to  become  himself  a  portrait- 
painter,  and  he  conceived  that  a  course  of 
instruction  at  the  Royal  Academy  afforded  the 
best  means  of  preparation  for  that  profession. 

Being  gifted  with  a  keen  and  distinct  obser- 
vation, combined  with  the  faculty  of  retaining 
impressions  once  formed,  and  being  an  excellent 
draughtsman,  he  could  with  ease  produce  admir- 
able representations  of  the  persons  he  portrayed 
on  canvas.  But  it  is  quite  clear  that  he  never 
had  been  instructed  either  in  the  right  mode  of 
mixing  his  pigments,  or  how  to  use  them  when 
properly  prepared,  or,  perhaps,  he  had  not  been 
an  apt  scholar.  He  was,  therefore,  unable  to 
obtain  the  necessary  flesh  tints,  which  require  so 
much  delicacy  in  handling,  or  the  gradations  of 


light  and  shade  so  requisite  in  the  painting  of  a 
good  portrait  or  picture,  Had  Branwell  possessed 
this  knowledge,  the  portraits  he  painted  would 
have  been  valuable  works  from  his  hand ;  but 
the  colours  he  used  have  all  but  vanished,  and 
scarcely  any  tint,  beyond  that  of  the  boiled  oil 
with  which  they  appear  to  have  been  mixed, 
remains.  Yet,  even  if  Branwell  had  been  for- 
tunate in  his  work,  he  would  only  have  attained 
the  position,  probably,  of  a  moderate  portrait- 
painter.  His  ambition,  however,  took  a  higher 
range,  and  he  prepared  himself  for  the  venture, 
hoping  that  the  desiderata  which  Haworth  could 
not  supply  would  be  amply  provided  for  him  in 
London,  when  the  long-desired  opportunity 

At  Haworth  he  had  been  industrious,  for  he 
had  painted  some  portraits  of  the  members  of  his 
family,  and  of  several  friends.  One  of  these  is 
well  described  by  Mrs.  Gaskell,  and  her  account 
is  worth  giving  here : — '  It  was  a  group  of  his 
sisters,  life-size,  three-quarters  length  .  .  .  the 
likenesses  were,  I  should  think,  admirable.  I 
only  judge  of  the  fidelity  with  which  the  other 
two  were  depicted,  from  the  striking  resemblance 


which  Charlotte,  upholding  the  great  frame  of 
canvas,  and  consequently  standing  right  behind 
it,  bore  to  her  own  representation,  though,  it 
must  have  been  ten  years  and  more  since  the 
portraits  were  taken.  The  picture  was  divided, 
almost  in  the  middle,  by  a  great  pillar.  On  the 
side  of  the  column  which  was  lighted  by  the 
sun  stood  Charlotte,  in  the  womanly  dress  of 
that  day  of  gigot  sleeves  and  large  collars.  On 
the  deeply  shadowed  side  was  Emily,  with 
Anne's  gentle  face  resting  oil  her  shoulder. 
Emily's  countenance  struck  me  as  full  of  power ; 
Charlotte's  of  solicitude;  Anne's  of  tenderness. 
The  two  younger  seemed  hardly  to  have  attained 
their  full  growth,  though  Emily  was  taller  than 
Charlotte ;  they  had  cropped  hair  and  a  more 
girlish  dress.  I  remember  looking  on  these  two 
sad,  earnest,  shadowed  faces,  and  wondering 
whether  I  could  trace  the  mysterious  expression 
which  is  said  to  foretell  an  early  death.  I  had 
some  fond  superstitious  hope  that  the  column 
divided  their  fate  from  hers  who  stood  apart  in 
the  canvas,  as  in  life  she  survived.  I  liked  to 
see  that  the  bright  side  of  the  pillar  was  towards 
Jier—  that  the  light  in  the  picture  fell  on  her.  I 


might  more  truly  have  sought  in  her  presentment 
— nay,  in  her  living  face — for  the  sign  of  death 
in  her  prime.'  1 

From  Mrs.  Gaskell's  description  of  this  one 
picture,  it  is  apparent  that  Branwell  possessed, 
not  only  the  faculty,  as  we  have  seen,  of  obtain- 
ing excellent  portraits,  but  that  he  had  the 
ability  to  impress  the  faces  of  his  sisters  with 
thought,  intelligence,  and  sensibility ;  and  to 
invest  them  with  the  habitual  expressions  they 
wore,  of  power,  solicitude,  and  tenderness.  The 
deep  reflection  which  Branwell  bestowed  on  this 
picture,  and  the  care  he  lavished  on  its  mysterious 
composition,  show  unquestionably  the  aptitude 
and  capacity  of  his  own  mind,  which  enabled 
him  to  obtain  these  essential  expressions ;  and  it 
is  evident  that  his  peculiarity  of  thought  invested 
his  picture  with  that  sadness  and  gloom  which, 
in  after  times,  tinctured  the  poems  he  wrote 
under  the  solemn-sounding  pseudonym  of 
'  Northangerland.'  This  picture  is  only  one 
among  many  others  he  painted  in  preparing 
himself  for  his  intended  studies  at  the  Royal 
Academy ;  and  the  old  nurse,  Nancy  Garrs,  tells- 
1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  vii. 


me  that  he  often  wanted  to  paint  her  portrait, 
but  she  told  him  that  she  did  not  think  herself 
'  good-looking*  enough.' 

At  a  later  date  Branwell  related  to  Mr.  George 
Searle  Phillips  the  story  of  his  artistic  hopes.1 
He  spoke  of  the  great  fondness  for  drawing 
manifested  by  the  whole  family ;  and  declared 
that  Charlotte,  especially,  was  well  read  in  art- 
learning,  and  knew  the  lives  of  the  old  masters, 
whose  works  she  criticized  with  discrimination 
and  judgment.  But  he  said  that  she  had  ruined 
her  eyesight  by  making  minute  copies  of  line- 
engravings,  on  one  of  which  she  was  occupied 
six  mouths.  He  also  spoke  of  his  own  passionate 
love  of  art,  and  of  the  bright  and  confident 
anticipations  with  which  he  had  looked  forward 
to  his  projected  studies  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
which  had  been  the  cherished  hope  of  his  family 
and  himself. 

Leylaud  had  visited  London  in  the  December 
of  1833,  when  he  obtained  from  Stotbard  a  letter 
of  introduction  to  Ottley,  the  curator  of  the 
Elgin  Marbles,  to  allow  him  to  study  the  marbles 
in  the  British  Museum.  Permission  was  readily 
1 '  The  Mirror,'  187± 


granted,  and  the  sculptor  availed  himself  of  it. 
A  year  later  Leyland  took  up  his  residence  in 
the  metropolis.  He  was  received  in  a  friendly 
manner  by  Chantrey  and  Westmacott,  the  latter 
inviting  him  to  dinner,  and  afterwards  showing 
him  his  foundry  at  Pimlico,  and  his  works  in 
progress,  among  which  was  the  statue  of  the 
Duke  of  York.  He  was  also  introduced  to,  and 
enjoyed  the  friendship  of  Nasmyth — the  father 
of  the  eminent  engineer  whose  story  has  recent- 
ly been  given  to  the  world — and  of  Varley :  one 
a  landscape-painter  of  celebrity,  and  the  other 
famed  as  an  artist  in  water-colour.  The  latter, 
who  had  considerable  faith  in  astrology,  per- 
sisted in  drawing  the  younger  sculptor's  horo- 
scope. Among  others,  he  became  known  to 
Haydon,  under  whom  he  subsequently  studied 
anatomy.  This  lamented  artist  was  a  genuine 
friend,  and  it  was  under  his  instructions  that 
Leyland  perfected  his  natural  perception  of  the 
grand  and  beautiful  in  art.  While  here  he 
modelled,  in  life-size,  a  figure  of  '  Kilmeny,'  in 
illustration  of  the  passage  in  Hogg's  '  Queen's 
Wake,'  where  the  sinless  maiden  is  awakened 
by  Elfin  music  in  fairy-land.  It  was  a  success- 


ful  work,  and  was  favourably  noticed  by  the 
critics.  It  was  subsequently  purchased  for  the 
Literary  and  Philosophical  Society  of  his  native 

It  was  while  Leyland  was  in  the  metropolis- 
that  Charlotte  wrote,  on  the  6th  July,  1835  : 

*  We  are  all  about  to  divide,  break  up,  separ- 
ate. Emily  is  going  to  school,  Branwell  is 
going  to  London,  and  I  am  going  to  be  a 
governess.  This  last  determination  I  formed 
myself,  knowing  that  I  should  have  to  take  the 
step  sometime,  "and  better  sune  as  syne,"  to 
use  the  Scotch  proverb  ;  and  knowing  well  that 
papa  would  have  enough  to  do  with  his  limited 
income,  should  Branwell  be  placed  at  the  Royal 
Academy,  and  Emily  at  Roe  Head.' 

While  this  project  was  warmly  engaging  the 
attention  of  the  Bronte  family,  Leyland  was 
living  in  London,  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Geller, 
a  mezzotiuto  engraver,  who  was  a  native  of 
Bradford ;  and,  at  the  time,  the  sculptor  model- 
led a  group  of  three  figures  illustrative  of  a 
passage  in  Maturin's  tragedy  of  'Bertram,'  which 
represented  the  warrior  listening  to  the  prior 
reading.  The  work  was  engraved  by  Geller. 


This  group  was  said  to  be  conceived  in  the 
•<  true  spirit  of  Maturin,'  and  met  with  the  favour- 
able notice  of  the  London  periodicals  of  the 
year  1835,  the  year  of  Branwell's  visit  to  the 
metropolis.  The  reviews  were  also  re-produced 
in  most  of  the  Yorkshire  papers. 

The  design  of  putting  Branwell  forward  as 
an  artist,  arid  of  giving  him  the  opportunity  and 
the  means  of  beginning  and  continuing  his 
studies,  where  he  might  be  imbued  with  the 
spirit  of  the  great  sculptors  and  painters  who 
have  left  imperishable  names,  and  whose  works 
are  stored  in  the  public  art-galleries  of  London, 
had  at  last  been  determined  upon.  The  sacri- 
fices the  Bronte  family  were  prepared  to  make 
in  order  to  secure  this  object  require  but  a 
passing  notice  here.  Branwell  was  a  treasured 
brother ;  and  they  would  feel,  no  doubt,  a 
sincere  happiness  in  promoting  his  interests, 
in  furthering  his  views,  and  in  bringing  his 
artistic  abilities  before  the  world.  It  would, 
however,  seem  scarcely  possible  that  the  dif- 
ficulties attending  Branwell's  admission  as  a 
student  at  the  Royal  Academy  had  been  duly 
considered.  He  could  not  be  admitted  without 


n  preliminary  examination  of  his  drawings  from 
the  antique  and  the  skeleton,  to  ascertain  if 
his  ability  as  a  draughtsman  was  of  such  an 
order  as  would  qualify  him  for  studentship ; 
and,  if  successful  in  this,  he  would  be  re- 
quired to  undergo  a  regular  course  of  educa- 
tion, and  to  pass  through  the  various  schools 
where  professors  and  academicians  attended  to 
give  instruction.  No  doubt  it  was  wished  that 
Branwell  should  have  a  regular  and  prolonged 
preparation  for  his  professional  artistic  career;  but 
it  would  have  lasted  for  years,  and  the  pecuni- 
ary strain  consequent  upon  it  would,  per- 
haps, have  been  severely  felt,  even  if  Branwell's 
genius  had  justified  the  outlay.  But  there  is 
no  evidence  that  he  ever  subjected  himself  to 
the  preliminary  test,  or  made  an  application 
even  to  be  admitted  as  a  probationer. 

It  would  seem  that,  so  far  as  Mr.  Bronte  was 
concerned,  his  promotion  of  the  wishes  of  his 
children  arose  rather  from  a  desire  to  gratify 
them.  It  does  not  appear  that  he  had  any  over- 
sanguine  expectation  that  Branwell  could  carry 
out  his  ardent  intention  of  becoming  an  artist. 
Mr.  Bronte's  own  wish  was,  indeed,  that  his  son 


should  adopt  his  profession,  but  the  mercurial 
youth  was  probably  little  attracted  by  the  func- 
tions of  the  clergyman's  office. 

To  London  Brauwell,  however,  went,  where,, 
without  doubt,  his  object  was  to  draw  from  the 
Elgin  Marbles,  and  to  study  the  pictures  at  the 
Royal  Academy  and  other  galleries,  with  a  per- 
fectly honest  intention.  Whatever  impression 
he  may  have  received  of  his  own  powers  as  an 
artist,  when  he  saw  those  of  the  great  painters  of 
the  time,  we  have  no  certain  knowledge ;  but  it 
does  not  exceed  belief  that  he  was  discouraged 
when  he  looked  upon  the  brilliant  chef  d'ceuvresof 
Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  Gainsborough,  Sir  Thomas 
Lawrence,  and  others;  and  that,  when  he 
reflected  on  the  immeasurable  distance  between 
his  own  works  and  theirs,  his  hopes  of  a  brilliant 
artistic  career  were  partially  dissipated.  Whether 
it  was  due  to  these  circumstances,  or  that  he  had 
become  more  fully  aware  of  the  early  struggles 
that  meet  all  who  attempt  art  as  a  profession,  or 
that  his  courage  failed  him  at  the  contemplation 
of  the  unhappy  lot  which  falls  to  those  who, 
either  from  lack  of  talent  or  through  misfortune, 
fail  to  make  their  mark  in  the  artistic  world ;  or 

THEIR  ART- AIMS.         .  145 

whether  it  was  because  his  father  was  unable  to 
support  him  in  London  during  the  years  of 
preparation  and  study  for  the  professional  career, 
— the  requirements  of  which  had  not  been 
sufficiently  considered, — is  not  now  accurately 
known.  Branwell,  during  his  short  stay  in 
London,  visited  most  of  the  public  institutions ; 
and,  among  other  places,  Westminster  Abbey, 
the  western  fa£ade  of  which  he  some  time  after- 
wards sketched  from  memory  with  an  accuracy 
that  astonished  his  acquaintance,  Mr.  Grundy. 

Before  he  left  the  metropolis,  Branwell  could 
not  resist  a  visit  to  the  Castle  Tavern,  Holborn, 
then  kept  by  the  veteran  prize-fighter,  Tom 
Spring,  a  place  frequented  by  the  principal 
sporting  characters  of  the  time.  A  gentleman 
named  Woolven,  who  was  present  through  the 
same  curiosity  which  led  Branwell  there,  noticed 
the  young  man,  whose  unusual  flow  of  language 
and  strength  of  memory  had  so  attracted  the 
attention  of  the  spectators  that  they  had  made 
him  umpire  in  some  dispute  arising  about  the 
dates  of  certain  celebrated  battles.  Brauwell 
and  he  became  personal  friends  in  after  years. 
Brauwell  returned  to  the  parsonage  a  wiser 
VOL.  I.  L 


man.  His  disappointment  that  he  was  not  to  do 
as  others  were  doing,  whom  he  wished  to  emu- 
late, was  very  great,  but  he  was  not  yet  finally 
discouraged.  We  shall  see  subsequently  to  what 
purpose  Bran  well  put  his  artistic  'knowledge. 
The  failure  of  the  hopes  regarding  his  academical 
career  in  art  was  keenly  felt  by  his  family.  It 
was  grievous  as  it  was  humiliating,  but  it  was 
borne  with  exemplary  patience  and  resignation. 
"When  these  painful  experiences  had  impressed 
the  Bronte  sisters  with  the  hopelessness  of  high 
artistic  study  for  Branwell,  and  when  their  eyes 
were  opened  to  the  consciousness  that  their  large 
gifts  did  not  include  art,  Charlotte  wrote,  in  her 
novel  of  '  Villette,'  under  the  character  of  Lucy 
Snowe:  'I  sat  bent  over  my  desk,  drawing — 
that  is,  copying  an  elaborate  line-engraving, 
tediously  working  up  my  copy  to  the  finish  of 
the  original,  for  that  was  my  practical  notion  of 
art;  and,  strange  to  say,  I  took  extreme  pleasure 
in  the  labour,  and  could  even  produce  curiously 
finished  fac-similes  of  steel  or  mezzotinto  plates 
— things  about  as  valuable  as  so  many  achieve- 
ments in  worsted  work,  but  I  thought  pretty 
well  of  them  in  those  davs.' 




Charlotte  returns  as  a  Teacher,  with  Emily  as  a  Pupil,  to  Roe 
Head — Their  Determination  to  Maintain  themselves 
— Charlotte's  Fears  respecting  Emily — Charlotte's  re- 
ligious Melancholy — Accuses  herself  of  Flippancy — 
She  is  on  the  Borders  of  Despair — Anxiety  to  Know 
More  of  the  World — Emily  at  Law  Hill,  Halifax,  as  a 

,  Teacher — Charlotte's  Excitability — She  returns  Home 
out  of  Health. 

'  WE  are  all  about  to  divide,  break  up,  separate,' 
Charlotte  said,  when  conveying  to  her  friend  the 
news  of  the  Academy  project,  and  of  her  deter- 
mination to  enter  upon  life  as  a  governess.  If 
BranwelTs  ambition  had  encouraged  her  own,  its 
failure  made  no  change  in  her  plans.  She  was 
*  sad,'  she  says,  '  very  sad,'  at  the  thoughts  of 
leaving  home ;  yet  she  was  going  back  to  the 
school  of  Miss  Wooler,  whom  she  both  loved  and 



respected,  to  live  at  Roe  Head,  this  time  to  teachr 
it  is  true,  instead  of  to  be  taught.  But  her 
sister  Emily  was  to  accompany  her,  as  a  pupil  of 
the  school,  and  that  they  would  be  together  was 
a  consolation  to  both  sisters;  and  Charlotte,  too, 
would  be  near  the  homes  of  the  friends  she  had 
made  when  she  was  herself  a  pupil  there.  It  was 
a  pleasure  to  think  she  would  be  able  to  see 
them  sometimes. 

At  the  end  of  July,  then,  the  two  proceeded 
to  Roe  Head.  This  was  the  first  of  those  adven- 
turous moves  which  the  sisters,  from  time  to 
time,  made.  One  of  the  strongest  features,  in- 
deed, in  their  lives  is  the  persistency  with  which 
they  essayed  to  maintain  themselves,  even  when 
no  apparently  pressing  necessity  impelled  them. 
Yet  we  may  not  doubt  that  one  sad  reflection 
sometimes  moved  them,  and  it  was  that  their 
father's  stipend  ceased  with  his  life;  that  they  had 
no  other  resource  beyond  their  own  endeavours  ; 
and  that,  such  was  the  uncertainty  -of  all  human 
concerns,  they  might  at  any  moment  be  deprived 
of  home,  support,  and  shelter.  It  behoved  them 
then  to  secure  by  their  personal  energies,  while 
they  were  able,  the  very  means  of  subsistence. 


When  Mr.  Bronte  saw  his  young  family  around 
him,  and  when  he  enjoyed  the  comfort  of  his 
hearth,  the  contingency  of  his  death,  and  the 
consequent  helplessness  of  his  children,  often 
struck  him  with  apprehension  and  sadness.  But 
he  had  the  alleviation  that  they  inherited,  in 
a  marked  degree,  his  own  adventurous  and 
energetic  disposition,  whose  successful  career 
Avas  always  before  them  as  an  example  and 
incentive  to  honourable  endeavour. 

Mr.  Bronte  looked  back  with  just  satisfaction 
on  the  early  sacrifices  he  had  made  to  advance 
himself  in  the  world.  His  children  were  familiar 
with  the  story  of  his  exertions.  They,  however, 
with  far  higher  talents,  were  not  possessed  of 
the  physical  strength  and  powers  of  endurance 
which  had  aided  his  progress;  and  Charlotte 
and  Emily,  when  any  unusual  strain  was  cast 
upon  them,  soon  felt  their  strength  exhausted, 
and  they  suffered  depression  of  spirits  as  the 
consequence.  Home-sickness  was  the  great 
trouble  of  the  younger  sister,  and,  before  she 
had  been  long  at  school,  Emily  grew  pale  and  ill. 
Charlotte  felt  in  her  heart  that,  if  she  remained, 
.she  would  die ;  and,  at  the  end  of  three  months, 


she  returned  to  Haworth,  where,  alone  among 
the  moors,  with  all  the  wild  things  of  nature, 
which  had  inspired  so  deep  an  interest  in  her 
feelings,  she  could  be  contented.  But  the 
youngest  sister,  Anne,  came  to  Roe  Head  in 
her  place,  and  she  and  Charlotte  seem  to  have 
been  very  happy  there  for  some  time  ;  but  a  tend- 
ency to  religious  melancholy  had  been  developing 
in  the  elder  sister's  mind,  imperceptibly,  out  of 
her  deep  religious  feeling,  and  it  increased  upon 

So  early  as  the  letter  to  « E,'  July  6th,  1835, 
she  had  spoken  of  '  duty,  necessity,  these  are 
stern  mistresses,'  as  controlling  her  action  in 
seeking;  a  situation.  Her  friend  Mary  went  to 


see  her,  and  in  her  letter  to  Mrs.  Gaskell  she 
says :  '  I  asked  her  how  she  could  give  so  much 
for  so  little  money,  when  she  could  live  without 
it.  She  owned  that,  after  clothing  herself  and 
Anne,  there  was  nothing  left,  though  she  had 
hoped  to  be  able  to  save  something.  She  con- 
fessed it  was  not  brilliant,  but  what  could  she 
do  ?  I  had  nothing  to  answer.  She  seemed 
to  have  no  interest  or  pleasure  beyond  the 
feeling  of  duty,  and,  when  she  could  get,  used 


to  sit  alone  and  "make  out."  She  told  me 
afterwards,  that  one  evening  she  had  sat  in 
the  dressing-room  until  it  was  quite  dark,  and 
then,  observing  it  all  at  once,  had  taken  sudden 
fright.'  Some  relaxation  was  gained  by  the 
Midsummer  holidays  of  the  year  1830.  All  the 
family  were  at  home,  and  their  friend  '  E  '  visited 
them,  so  that  a  pleasant  period  of  mental  diver- 
sion was  secured.  But,  after  her  return  to  her 
school,  despondency  came  upon  her  again,  and 
crowded  her  thoughts ;  and  she  wrote  respecting 
her  feelings  in  religious  concerns :  '  I  do  Avish 
to  be  better  than  I  am.  I  pray  fervently  some- 
times to  be  made  so.  I  have  stings  of  con- 
science, visitings  of  remorse,  glimpses  of  holy, 
of  inexpressible  things,  which  formerly  I  used 
to  be  a  stranger  to ;  it  may  all  die  away,  and 
I  may  be  in  utter  midnight,  but  I  implore  a 
merciful  Redeemer,  that,  if  this  be  the  dawn 
of  the  Gospel,  it  may  still  brighten  to  perfect 
day.  Do  not  mistake  me — do  not  think  I  am 
good ;  I  only  wish  to  be  so.  I  only  hate  my 
former  flippancy  and  forwardness.  Oh !  I  arn 
no  better  than  ever  I  was.  I  am  in  that  state 
of  horrid,  gloomy  uncertainty  that,  at  this  mo- 


ment,  I  would  submit  to  be  old,  grey-haired,  to 
have  passed  all  my  youthful  days  of  enjoyment, 
arid  to  be  settling  on  the  verge  of  the  grave, 
if  I  could  only  thereby  insure  the  prospect  of 
reconciliation  to  God,  and  a  redemption  through 
His  Son's  merits.  I  never  was  exactly  careless 
of  these  matters,  but  I  have  always  taken  a 
clouded  and  repulsive  view  of  them ;  and  now, 
if  possible,  the  clouds  are  gathering  darker,  and 
a  more  oppressive  despondency  weighs  on  my 
spirits.  You  have  cheered  me,  my  darling ;  for 
one  moment,  for  an  atom  of  time,  I  thought  I 
might  call  you  my  own  sister  in  the  spirit ;  but 
the  excitement  is  past,  and  I  am  now  as  wretch- 
ed and  hopeless  as  ever.' 

Let  us  not  uuder-estimate  the  mental  suffer- 
ing which  could  dictate  this  confession.  Hap- 
pily, this  was  not  constantly  present,  nor  her  feel- 
ings always  so  acutely  wrought  upon.  Even  in 
the  same  letter  from  which  the  above  is  taken, 
she  wishes  her  friends  should  know  the  thrill  of 
delight  which  she  experienced  when  she  saw 
the  packet  of  her  friend  thrown  over  the  wall 
by  the  bearer,  passing  in  his  gig  to  Hudders- 
field  Market.  She  persevered  in  her  place,  the 


whole  tendency  of  her  exaggerated  reasoning 
forbidding  her  to  seek  that  ease  and  relaxation 
which  she  needed  so  much ;  but  she  was  not 
incapacitated  for  her  duties,  and  probably  her 
family  were  quite  unaware  of  her  troubles :  so 
she  remained. 

Brauwell  and  Emily  were  resolved  not  to  be 
behind  their  sister  in  their  endeavours,  and  they 
were  full  of  anxiety  to  know  more  of  the  world 
than  they  could  meet  with  at  Haworth.  Emily 
obtained  a  similar  situation  to  Charlotte's,  in  a 
large  school  at  Law  Hill,  near  Halifax,  where 
she  found  her  duties  far  from  light.  Her  ex- 
treme reserve  with  strangers  is  remembered  by 
one  who  knew  her  there,  but  she  was  not  at  all 
of  an  unkindly  nature ;  on  the  contrary,  her 
disposition  was  generous  and  considerate  to 
those  with  whom  she  was  on  familiar  terms: 
her  stay  at  Law  Hill  terminated  at  the  end 
of  six  months.  The  place  of  her  sojourn  is 
a  lofty  elevation,  overlooking  Halifax.  Emily 
would  find  the  situation  of  the  school  agreeable 
to  her  taste,  and  to  her  delight  in  the  weird 
and  grand  as  presented  by  the  solemn  heath- 
grown  heights  of  the  West  Riding:  besides, 


the  air  was  as  pure  as  that  of  Haworth,  and 
Law  Hill  commanded  finer  views,  among  which 
the  range  of  Oxenhope  moors,  in  her  father's 
chapelry,  was  visible.  In  the  other  direction,, 
she  could  overlook  the  more  cultivated  district 
of  Hartshead  and  Kirldees,  and  could  see  Roe 
Head,  where  her  sisters  Charlotte  and  Anne 
resided.  Branwell  also,  emulating  his  sisters, 
obtained  the  situation  of  usher  in  the  locality, 
which  he  retained  for  a  few  months. 

Some  adventures  with  their  literary  produc- 
tions interested  them  at  the  close  of  this  year, 
of  which  I  shall  have  further  to  speak.  Miss 
Wooler's  removal  of  her  school  to  Dewsbury 
Moor  was,  in  some  respects,  unfortunate  for  the 
sisters,  as  the  situation  was  less  healthy  than 
the  former  one,  and,  when  Charlotte  and  Anne 
returned  home  at  Christmas,  in  the  year  1837r 
neither  was  well.  Charlotte's  nerves  were  over- 
strung, and  Anne  was  suffering  from  chest 
affections,  which  conjured  up  anew  their  recol- 
lection of  the  deaths  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth 
from  consumption.  To  add  to  their  troubles, 
Tabby  fell  on  the  ice  in  the  lane,  and  fractured 


her  leg.  The  consequence  of  this  was,  that 
they  had  to  forego  the  expected  pleasure  of 
a  visit  from  their  friend  '  E,'  through  their  at- 
tendance on  the  old  servant,  whom  they  were 
unwilling  should  be  removed  to  her  friends,  how- 
ever desirable  this  might  be  on  many  grounds. 
They  even  went  so  far  as  to  refuse  to  eat  at 
all,  till  their  aunt,  who  had  arranged  the  mat- 
ter to  the  satisfaction  of  all  concerned,  except  her 
nieces,  should  give  up  her  intention  of  removing 
Tabby.  They  succeeded,  and  Tabby  remained  at 
the  parsonage,  where  in  time  she  became  con- 
valescent, and  Charlotte  was  enabled  to  visit  her 
friends  before  she  resumed  her  occupation. 

Charlotte  again  returned  to  her  accustomed 
duties,  her  nervousness  increasing,  not  the  less  ; 
and  Mrs.  Gaskell  says :  *  About  this  time  she 
would  turn  sick  and  trembling  at  any  sudden 
noise,  and  could  hardly  repress  her  screams 
when  startled.'  Through  Miss  Wooler's  ur- 
gency, she  was  induced  to  consult  a  medical 
man,  who  advised  her  immediate  return  to 
Haworth,  where  quiet  and  rest  had  become 
for  her  imperatively  necessary.  Then  her  father 


sought  for  her  the  companionship  of  her  two 

friends,  Maiy  and  Martha  T ,  than  whose 

society  Charlotte  had  never  known  a  more  rous- 
ing pleasure.  They  came  to  stay  at  the  par- 
sonage, and  their  cheerful  converse  and  agree- 
able manners  greatly  improved  Charlotte's 
health  and  spirits.  We  obtain  an  interesting 
picture  of  the  young  party  in  the  following 
letter  that  Charlotte  addressed  to  her  friend 
*  E,'  which  Mrs.  Gaskell  has  published : 

'  Ha  worth, 

'  June  9th,  1838. 

'  I  received  your  packet  of  despatches  on 
Wednesday;  it  was  brought  me  by  Mary  and 
Martha,  who  have  been  staying  at  Haworth 
for  a  few  days;  they  leave  us  to-day.  You 
will  be  surprised  at  the  date  of  this  letter. 
I  ought  to  be  at  Dewsbury  Moor,  you  know ; 
but  I  stayed  as  long  as  I  was  able,  and  at 
length  I  neither  could  nor  dared  stay  any 
longer.  My  health  and  spirits  had  utterly 
failed  me,  and  the  medical  man  whom  I  con- 
sulted enjoined  me,  as  I  valued  my  life,  to 
go  home.  So  home  I  went,  and  the  change 


has  at  once  roused  and  soothed  me.  I  am 
now,  I  trust,  fairly  in  the  way  to  be  myself 

'A  calm  and  even  mind  like  yours  cannot 
conceive  the  feelings  of  the  shattered  wretch 
who  is  now  writing  to  you,  when,  after  weeks 
of  mental  and  bodily  anguish  not  to  be  describ- 
ed, something  like  peace  began  to  dawn  again. 
Mary  is  far  from  well.  She  breathes  short,  has 
a  pain  in  her  chest,  and  frequent  flushings  of 
fever.  I  cannot  tell  you  what  agony  these 
symptoms  give  me ;  they  remind  me  so  strong- 
ly of  my  two  sisters,  whom  no  power  of  medicine 
could  save.  Martha  is  now  very  well ;  she  has 
kept  in  a  continual  flow  of  good  humour  during 
her  stay  here,  and  has  consequently  been  very 
fascinating  .  .  . 

'  They  are  making  such  a  noise  about  me,  I 
cannot  write  any  more.  Mary  is  playing  on 
the  piano ;  Martha  is  chattering  as  fast  as  her 
little  tongue  can  run  ;  and  Branwell  is  standing 
before  her,  laughing  at  her  vivacity/ 

Branwell,  in  these  days,  was  well  enough, 
and  could  be  lively  enough,  when  occasion 


-served.  He  had  his  hopes,  his  enthusiasm  yet : 
but,  in  after  years,  he  was  to  fall  into  a  yet 
deeper  and  more  serious  depression  than  that 
through  which  Charlotte  had  passed. 




The  Light  in  which  Biographers  have  regarded  Branwell — 
Bibliography — Mrs.  Gaskell — The  Causeswhichledher 
into  Error — Resentment  of  Branwell's  Friends — Mr. 
George  Searle  Phillips — Branwell  as  Depicted  by  Mr.T. 
Wemyss  Reid — Mr.  F.  II.  Grundy's  Notice  of  Branwell 
— Miss  A.  Mary  F.  Robinson's  Portrait  of  Branwell. 

IT  will  be  well  here — before  we  reach  the  periods 
of  Branwell's  life  that  have  been  misunderstood 
—to  pause,  in  our  sketch  of  the  Bronte  family,  in 
order  to  consider  certain  circumstances  regarding 
him,  which  it  will  bo  impossible  for  any  future 
writer  on  the  Brontes  to  disregard.  It  is 
especially  necessary  to  consider  them  in  a  book 
which — while  dealing  with  the  Bronte  sisters, 
their  lives  and  their  works — proposes,  as  a  special 
aim,  to  make  Branwell's  position  clear.  When 


Derwent  Coleridge  wrote  the  short  biography  of 
his  father,  which  is  prefixed  to  the  poet's  works,, 
he  approached  the  subject  in  a  somewhat  regret- 
ful way,  asking  if  the  public  has  a  right  to 
inquire  as  to  that  part  of  a  poet's  life  which  does 
not  influence  his  fellow-men  after  death,  and 
declaring  that  the  privacy  of  the  dead  is  sacred. 
He  felt  too  keenly  that  the  sanctity  of  Cole- 
ridge's life  had  been  broken  in  upon  by  those 
who  lacked  both  accurate  knowledge  and  just 
discretion.  It  is  a  source  of  sincere  regret  to  the 
writer  of  this  volume  that  he,  too,  is  compelled 
by  circumstances  to  treat  a  part  of  his  work 
almost  in  a  deprecatory  spirit,  and  sometimes  to 
assume  the  position  of  defence.  For,  if  the 
failings  of  Coleridge  have  been  discovered  and 
fed  upon  by  those  whose  curiosity  leads  them  to 
delight  in  such  things,  what  shall  we  say  of 
Patrick  Bran  well  Bronte,  whose  misdeeds  have 
not  only  been  sought  out  with  a  persistency 
worthy  of  a  better  cause,  but  have  also  been 
exaggerated  and  misrepresented  to  a  great 
degree,  and  whose  whole  life,  moreover,  has 
been  contorted  by  writers  who  have  endeavoured 
to  find  in  it  some  evidence  for  their  own 


hypotheses  V  It  has  beeii  the  misfortune  of 
Brauwell  that  his  life  has,  to  some  extent,  been 
already  several  times  written  by  those  who  have 
had  some  other  object  in  view,  and  who,  conse- 
quently, have  not  been  studious  to  acquire  a 
correct  view  of  the  circumstances  of  it.  These 
writers,  it  will  be  seen,  have  therefore,  perhaps 
unavoidably,  fallen  into  many  grievous  errors 
regarding  him,  so  that  his  name,  at  this  day,  has 
come  to  be  held  up  as  a  reproach  and  even  as  a 
token  of  ignominy.  If  it  be  remembered  that 
Mrs.  Gaskell,  in  her  *  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,' 
describes  him  as  a  drunkard  and  an  opium-eater, 
as  one  who  rendered  miserable  the  lives  of  his 
sisters,  and  might  very  well  have  shot  his  father; 
that  Mr.  T.  WemyssReid,in  his  'Charlotte  Bronte, 
a  Monograph,'  has  spoken  of  him  as  '  this  lost 
and  degraded  man ;'  that  Miss  Robinson,  in  her 
'Emily  Bronte,'  has  called  him  a  'poor,  half- 
demented  lonely  creature,'  and  has  moralized 
upon  his  'vulgar  weakness,'  his  'corrupt  and 
loathsome  sentimentality,'  and  his  '  maudlin 
Micawber  penitence  ;'  and  lastly  that  Mr.  Swin- 
burne, in  a  notice  of  the  last-named  work  in  the 
'  Athenteum,'  has  said,  '  of  that  lamentable  and 
VOL.  I.  M 


contemptible  caitiff — contemptible  not  so  much 
for  his  common-place  debauchery  as  for  his 
abject  selfishness,  his  lying  pretension,  and  his 
nerveless  cowardice — there  is  far  too  much  in 
this  memoir;'  it  may  well  appear  that  we  have 
here  a  strange  subject  for  a  biography. 

But,  since  the  publication  of  Miss  Robinson's 
<  Emily  Bronte,' — in  which  Bran  well  is  specially 
degraded, — it  has  been  felt  by  many  admirers  of 
the  Brontes  that  it  was  desirable  his  life  should 
be  treated  independently  of  the  theories  and 
necessities  of  his  sisters'  biographers,  and  in  a 
spirit  not  unfriendly  to  him ;  for  there  are  many 
people  who  believe  that  Brauwell's  genius  has 
never  been  sufficiently  recognized,  and  there 
are  a  few  who  know  that,  notwithstanding 
his  many  failings  and  misdeeds,  the  charges 
made  against  him  are,  not  a  few  of  them,  wholly 
untrue,  while  many  more  are  grossly  exaggerated, 
and  that  his  disposition  and  character  have  been 
wholly  misrepresented.  Having  in  my  possession 
many  of  his  letters  and  poems,  and  having  been 
personally  acquainted  with  him,  I  have  under- 
taken the  task  of  telling  the  story  of  his  life  in 
connection  with  the  lives  of  his  sisters,  for  I  think 


that  there  is  much  in  his  strange  and  sad  history 
that  ought  to  be  known,  while  sufficient  evidence 
exists  of  his  mental  power  to  prove  that  he  was 
a  worthy  member  of  the  intellectual  family  to 
which  he  belonged.  It  may  not  be  amiss  here, 
in  order  to  illustrate  circumstances  that  will  be 
alluded  to  in  parts  of  this  work,  to  touch  slightly 
upon  the  bibliography  of  Branwell's  life,  and 
endeavour  to  discover  the  causes  which  have 
contributed  to  the  ill-repute  in  which  he  is 
generally  held. 

Mrs.  Gaskell,  who  became  acquainted  with 
Charlotte  Bronte  after  the  deaths  of  her  brother 
and  sisters,  when  all  that  was  most  sorrowful  in 
her  life  had  been  enacted,  saw,  or  thought  she 
saw,  in  her  the  evidences  of  a  deep  dejection, 
the  result  of  a  life  passed  under  circumstances  of 
misery  and  depression.  In  her  'Life  of  Charlotte 
Bronte,'  this  writer's  endeavour  to  trace  the  suc- 
cessive influences  of  the  trials  of  Charlotte's  life 
upon  her,  and  to  find  in  them  the  explanation  of 
what  was,  perhaps,  in  some  measure,  an  idiosyn- 
crasy of  character,  has  led  her,  in  the  strength  of 
her  own  preconception,  to  interpret  many  circum- 
stances to  the  attestation  of  her  theory.  Such, 

M  2 


at  all  events,  is  the  explanation  which  Mr.  T. 
Weymss  Keid  has  offered,  in  his '  Charlotte  Bronte, 
a  Monograph,'  of  the  partial  manner  in  which  Mrs. 
Gaskell  has  dealt  with  certain  of  Miss  Bronte's 
letters.  If  we  conceive  Mrs.  Gaskell  writing 
with  this  preconception,  tending  to  give  undue 
weight  to  all  that  was  unhappy  in  the  history  of 
her  heroine,  we  need  feel  little  surprise  that  her 
account  of  the  lives  of  the  Brontes  is  too  often  a 
gloomy  one,  that  their  isolation  at  Ha  worth,, 
their  poverty,  and  their  struggles  have  been 
exaggerated,  or  that,  in  order  to  throw  in  a 
sombre  background  to  her  picture,  she  was 
unduly  credulous  in  listening  to  those  imfounded 
stories  with  which  she  made  Mr.  Bronte  to 
appear,  in  act,  at  least,  diabolical,  and  which  have- 
helped  to  depict  the  career  of  Patrick  Branwell 
Bronte  in  such  dark  and  tragic  colours.  She  had 
heard  at  Ha  worth  the  story  of  his  disgrace,  his 
subsequent  intemperance,  and  his  death.  Herein 
she  believed  was  the  great  sorrow  of  the  sistersr 
minds,  the  care  which  had  induced  a  morbid 
peculiarity  in  their  writings,  and  cast  a  shadow 
upon  their  lives.  Mrs.  Gaskell  seems  to  have 
thought  it  devolved  upon  her,  not  merely  to 


picture  beginnings  of  evil  in  the  brother,  and 
trace  them  to  his  ruin  ;  but,  also,  to  punish  the 
lady  whom  she  held  responsible  for  what  has 
been  termed  '  BranwelFs  fall.'  To  this  end  she 
thought  it  right  to  lay  at  the  lady's  door,  in  part, 
the  premature  deaths  of  the  sisters;  and,  in  sus- 
taining the  idea  that  the  effect  on  them  of  the 
brother's  disgrace  was  what  she  believed  it  to 
be,  she  was  led  to  employ  partial  versions  of  the 
letters,  and  exaggerate  the  whole  course  of 
Branwell's  conduct.  Her  book  was  read  with 
-astonishment  by  those  whose  characters  were 
made  to  suffer  by  it,  and  she  was  obliged,  in 
later  editions,  to  omit  the  charges  against  the 
lady ;  and  also  those  against  Mr.  Bronte.  But 
Mrs.  Gaskell  still  maintained  that,  whatever  the 
cause,  the  effect  was  the  same. 

It  was  not  believed  at  the  time,  by  some,  that, 
•because  Mrs.  Gaskeli  had  been  obliged  to  with- 
draw the  statements  complained  of,  in  the  later 
editions  of  her  work,  they  were  necessarily 
untrue.  Mr.  Thackeray  had  said  that  the  life 
was  'necessarily  incomplete,  though  most  touch- 
ing and  admirable,'  and  the  original  edition  was 
still  in  circulation,  and  was  pirated  abroad. 


The  friends  of  Branwell  Bronte,  those  who 
from  actual  acquaintance  knew  his  mental  power 
and  real  disposition,  resented  greatly  the  wrong 
that  had  been  done  to  his  memory  ;  and  several 
representations  were  made  in  his  favour.  One 
of  these  was  in  an  article  entitled :  '  A  Winter's- 
Day  at  Haworth,'  published  in  '  Chambers'^ 
Journal/  1869.  Mr.  George  Searle  Phillips,  in 
the  '  Mirror/  of  1872,  also  published  some  valu- 
able reminiscences  which  tended  to  show  Bran- 
well's  true  elevation  of  character  and  gentleness 
of  disposition. 

The  publication  of  Mr.  Wemyss  Reid's  '  Char- 
lotte Bronte,  a  Monograph/  in  the  year  1877, 
while  it  called  attention  to  the  original  view  of 
Branw ell's  life  and  character,  did  not  aim  to 
remove  it.  Mr.  Reid  repudiated,  with  success,  the 
idea  that  the  effect  of  Branwell's  career  upon 
Charlotte  and  Emily  was  what  Mrs.  Gaskell 
represented  it  to  have  been,  without  expressing 
any  dissent  from  the  story  itself.  This  writer 
does  not,  indeed,  appear  to  have  suspected  that 
the  explanation  was  to  be  found  in  the  fact  that 
Branwell  was  not  so  bad  as  he  had  been  made 
to  appear,  or  that  Mrs.  Gaskell  had  fallen 'into- 


other  errors  besides  those  of  the  letters  which 
he  corrected.  But,  though  Mr.  Reid  carefully 
avoided  the  reproduction  of  the  details  of  Mrs. 
Gaskell's  account  of  Branwell's  life,  what 
reference  is  made  to  him  in  the  '  Monograph/ 
after  the  period  of  his  youth,  is  always  in  terms 
of  reprobation,  which  have  done  nothing  to  dis- 
courage belief  in  the  suppressed  scandal.  More- 
over, Mr.  Reid  revived  some  of  the  charges 
against  Mr.  Bronte,  and  painted  a  sinister  portrait 
of  him. 

It  was  under  these  circumstances  that  Mr.  F. 
H.  Grundy,  C.E.,  another  friend  of  Branwell's, 
in  his  '  Pictures  of  the  Past '  (1879),  endeavour- 
ed to  do  some  justice  to  his  memory,  and  de- 
clared, notwithstanding  his  great  failings,  that 
his  abilities  were  of  a  very  high  order,  and  his 
disposition  one  that  should  be  admired.  I  have 
found  Mr.  Grundy's  materials  of  use  in  this 
work.  But,  unfortunately,  this  friend  of  Bran- 
well's  wrote  from  recollection,  and  made  sucli 
great  mistakes  in  the  chronology  of  his  life  that 
his  account  did  not  give  a  true  interpretation 
of  actual  circumstances.  Mr.  Grundy,  too,  had 
evidently  refreshed  his  memory  with  a  perusal 


of  Mrs.  Gaskell's  volume,  and  so  his  information 
was  considerably  tinctured  with  that  writer's 
misconceptions.  This  notice  had  the  very  op- 
posite effect  to  that  which  was  intended,  and 
has  since  been  largely  used  by  writers  whose 
purpose  has  led  them  to  rank  Branwell  with  the 

In  Miss  Robinson's  recently  published  '  Emily 
Bronte,'  the  scandal  of  Branwell's  life,  which 
Mrs.  Gaskell  laid  before  the  reading  world,  has 
been  reproduced,  and  her  evil  report  of  his 
character  greatly  increased.  '  Why,'  it  might 
well  be  asked,  '  should  it  be  necessary  to  pub- 
lish the  records  of  a  brother's  misdeeds  as  a 
conspicuous  feature  in  a  sister's  memoir? 
Why  revive  a  scandal  that  has  been  so  long 
suppressed?'  Miss  Robinson  has,  indeed,  given 
her  reason,  in  that  Branwell's  sins  had  so  large 
a  share  in  determining  the  bent  of  his  sister's 
genius,  that  'to  have  passed  them  by  would 
have  been  to  ignore  the  shock  which  turned 
the  fantasy  of  the  "poems"  into  the  tragedy 
of  "  Wuthering  Heights,"'  and  here,  probably, is 
the  only  adequate  purpose  that  could  have 
been  found  in  doing  so ;  but  it  is  scarcely  suf- 


ficient  to  explain  why  Miss  Robinson  Las,  almost 
from  her  first  mention  of  Branwell  Bronte  to 
her  remarks  on  his  death,  treated  every  act 
of  his  life  with  contumely,  censure,  and  con- 
tempt, or  that  she  has,  in  opposition  to  every 
previous  opinion,  represented  his  abilities  as 
almost  void.  While  Mr.  Reid  suggested  that 
Emily  Bronte,  in  writing  her  novel,  must  have 
obtained  some  of  her  impressions  from  her  bro- 
ther's conduct,  Mr.  Grundy  had  made  a  state- 
ment tending  to  show  that  Branwell  had  written 
a  portion  of  the  story  himself.  If  Branwell's 
abilities  were  no  better  than  Miss  Robinson  says 
they  were,  she  has  disposed  of  Mr.  Grundy's 
assertion  at  once;  but  not  the  less  does  she 
employ  other  reasons  for  that  end,  and  the 
degradation  she  has  thought  it  necessary  to 
show  in  Branwell,  answers  quite  as  much  to 
prove  the  impossibility  of  his  having  written 
the  work,  as  to  picture  the  cause  of  brooding 
in  Emily,  under  which  she  produced  the  tragedy 
of '  Wuthering  Heights.' 

With  views  similar  to  those  with  which  Mrs. 
Gaskell  wrote,  Miss  Robinson,  in  following  the 
biographer  of  Charlotte,  has  fallen  into  the  same 


errors.  In  order  to  make  it  clear  that  the  part 
Bvanwell  had  in  the  production  of  '  Wutheriug 
Heights,'  by  his  sister,  was  subjective,  this 
writer  has  found  it  necessary  to  show  in  his 
life  much  of  what  is  worst  in  the  characters  of 
the  story.  So  completely  has  Miss  Robinson 
carried  out  this  portion  of  her  work,  that  Mr. 
Swinburne  was  led  to  say,  in  his  notice  of  it, 
that  '  Emily  Bronte's  tenderness  for  the  lower 

animals was   so  vast   as   to   include 

even  her  own  miserable  brother.'1  But  Miss 
Eobinson  has  not  succeeded  so  far  without 
much  unfairness  to  the  victim  of  her  theory, 
in  omissions  and  errors  of  fact.  I  shall  have 
occasion  to  treat  at  some  length,  later,  Bran- 
well's  relationship  both  to  '  Wuthering  Heights f 
and  '  The  Tenant  of  Wildfell  Hall.' 

1  hope,  indeed,  to  be  able  to  prove  that  Bran- 
well  was  (as  all  who  personally  knew  him  aver  him 
to  have  been)  a  man  of  great  and  powerful  in- 
tellectual gifts,  to  relieve  his  memory  of  much 
of  the  obloquy  that  has  been  heaped  upon  itr 
and  to  clearly  show  the  remarkable  individu- 
ality of  his  character.  I  shall  find  it  necessary,. 
1  'Athenaeum,'  June  ICth,  1883,  p.  7G2. 


in  doing  so,  to  take  exception  to  the  portions 
of  Mrs.  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte  * 
which  deal  with  her  brother,  as  to  some  extent 
I  had  to  do  to  those  which  refer  to  Mr.  Bronte. 
More  especially,  however,  will  it  be  necessary 
to  deal  with  the  fuller  statements  in  the  first 
edition  of  the  work,  and  with  their  repetition  and 
amplification  in  the  more  recent  volumes  of 
Mr.  Reid  and  Miss  Robinson. 

I  have  thought  it  necessary  to  introduce  these 
remarks  in  this  place,  in  order  that  the  reader, 
when  he  comes  to  the  consideration  of  certain 
statements  made  by  previous  writers  concerning 
Branwell,  and  his  relationship  with  his  sisters, 
may  have  a  clear  understanding  of  the  views 
with  which  the  works  containing  these  state- 
ments have  been  written. 




Branwell  becomes  a  Freemason — His  love  of  Art  undi- 
minished — Has  Instruction  in  Oil-Painting — Com- 
mences Portrait-Painting  at  Bradford — His  Com- 
missions —His  Letter  to  Mr.  Thompson,  the  Artist — 
Miss  Robinson's  Charges  of  Misconduct — Her  Er- 
roneous Statements — Branwell's  true  Character  and 
Conduct  at  Bradford — Remarks  on  his  alleged  Opium- 
eating  there. 

WHEN  Branwell  returned  from  London  it  was 
not  without  sin  cere  satisfaction  that  his  acquain- 
tances welcomed  their  gifted  and  versatile  friend 
back  to  Haworth,  certain  of  whom  induced  him 
to  become  a  freemason.  Thus  Branwell  was 
brought  into  closer  connection  with  the  convivial 
circles  of  the  village. 

There  was  held  at  Haworth,   at  the  time, 
'  The   Lodge  of  the  Three  Graces.'      In  this 


lodge  Branwell  was  proposed  as  a  brother, 
and  accepted  on  the  1st  of  February,  1836, 
initiated  February  the  29th,  passed  March 
the  28th,  and  raised  April  the  25th  of  that 
year,  John  Brown  being  the  'Worshipful  Master/ 
Branwell  was  present  at  eleven  meetings  in 
1836,  the  minutes  of  one  of  these — Septem- 
ber the  18th — being  fully  entered  by  him. 
On  December  the  20th  of  the  same  year,  he 
fulfilled  the  duties  of  'Junior  Warden ;'  and,  at 
seven  meetings  of  the  lodge,  from  January 
the  16th  to  December  the  llth,  1&37,  he  was 
secretary,  and  entered  the  minutes.  He  also, 
on  Christmas  Day  of  the  same  year,  officiated 
as  organist.1  In  addition  to  his  duties  in  con- 
nection with  the  Masonic  Lodge,  he  likewise 
undertook  the  secretaryship  of  the  local  Temper- 
ance Society,  of  which  he  was  a  member. 

Bran  well's  love  of  art  had  been  too  strong, 
and  his  interest  in  its  practice  too  intense,  to 
allow  even  such  a  check  as  that  whicl^  his  aspira- 
tions had  received  in  the  failure  of  the  Academy 
project  to  finally  discourage  him.  Hence  it 
was,  I  suppose,  when  he  had  relinquished  his 
1  Riley's  '  History  of  the  Airedale  Lodge,'  p.  48. 


place  of  usher  that  his  passionate  desire  of 
becoming  an  artist,  still  cherished  under  dis- 
appointment, revived.  He  conceived,  as  the 
project  of  studying  at  the  Royal  Academy  had 
not  proved  feasible,  that,  if  he  had  a  full  course 
of  instruction  from  Mr.  Robinson,  he  could,  in 
that  way,  qualify  himself,  perhaps  as  well,  to 
adopt  the  profession  of  a  portrait-painter,  more 
valuable  in  those  days,  when  photographers  were 
not,  than  now ;  and  Mr.  Bronte,  leaning  to  his 
son's  wish,  was  induced  to  sanction  the  proposal, 
as  it  might  provide  Branwell  with  an  alterna- 
tive occupation  to  that  of  tutor,  the  only  other 
that  seemed  open  to  him. 

Mr.  Robinson's  charge,  on  the  few  occasions 
of  his  lessons  at  Haworth  parsonage,  had  been 
two  guineas  for  each  visit.  But  it  was  IIOAV 
arranged  that  Branwell  should  receive  instruc- 
tion from  the  artist  at  his  studio  in  Leeds.  In 
this  way  he  would  not  only  have  better  oppor- 
tunities of  acquiring  the  art,  but  the  cost  would 
be  much  less.  For  this  purpose,  he  stayed  at 
an  inn  in  Briggate,  but  occasionally  took  his 
master's  pictures  to  Haworth  to  copy.  Under 
this  kind  of  tuition  he  continued  for  some 


months,  -when,  having  completed  his  studies, 
he  resolved  upon  turning  the  instruction  he 
had  received,  probably  through  the  kindness 
of  his  aunt,  to  profitable  account.  With  this 
professional  intention,  he  engaged  private  apart- 
ments in  Bradford,  and  took  up  his  residence 
as  a  portrait-painter,  under  the  interest  of  his 
mother's  relative,  the  Rev.  William  Morgan,  of 
Christ  Church.  Among  others,  he  painted  por- 
traits of  this  gentleman,  and  of  the  Rev.  Henry- 
Heap,  the  vicar.  For  some  months  Branwell 
was  successful  in  maintaining  himself  by  these 
praiseworthy  efforts ;  but  it  was  scarcely  to 
be  expected  that  he  could  succeed  sufficiently 
well  in  competition  with  the  older  and  more 
experienced  artists  of  the  neighbourhood. 

Among  his  other  pictures,  were  portraits  of 
Mrs.  Kirby,  his  landlady,  and  her  two  children. 
One  of  these,  a  beautiful  little  girl,  was  his 
special  favourite.  At  his  frequent  request,  she 
dined  with  him  in  his  private  sitting-room,  her 
pleasant  smiles  and  cheerful  prattling  always 
charming  him. 

It  may  be  mentioned  here  that,  when  Bran- 
well  had  entered  upon  his  studies  under  Mr. 


Robinson,  he  formed  an  acquaintance  with  a 
fellow-student,  Mr.  J.  H.  Thompson,  who  was 
a  portrait-painter  at  Bradford.  A  close  friend- 
ship grew  up  between  them ;  and  this  artist,, 
being  more  experienced  than  Branwell,  gave, 
now  and  then,  finishing  touches  to  the  pro- 
ductions of  his  young  friend. 

Soon  after  Branwell  gave  up  his  profession 
as  an  artist  at  Bradford,  he  wrote  to  Mr. 
Thompson,  in  reference  to  some  misunderstand- 
ing which  had  arisen  between  himself  and  his 
landlady.  The  letter  is  dated  from  '  Ha  worth, 
May  the  17th,  1839.' 

«  DEAR  SIR, 

'  Your  last  has  made  me  resolve  on  a 
visit  to  you  at  Bradford,  for  certainly  this  train 
of  misconceptions  and  delays  must  at  last  be 
put  a  stop  to. 

'I  shall  (Deo  volente)  be  at  the  "Bull's 
Head"  at  two  o'clock  this  afternoon  (Friday), 
and  do  be  there,  or  in  Bradford,  to  give  me 
your  aid  when  I  arrive ! 

*  I  am  astonished  at  Mrs.  Kirby.  I  have  no 
pictures  of  hers  to  finish.  But  I  said  that,  if  I 


returned  there,  I  would  varnish  three  for  her  ; 
and  also  I  do  not  understand  people  who  look 
on  a  kindness  as  a  duty. 

'  Once  more  my  heartfelt  thanks  to  you  for 
your  consideration  for  one  who  has  none  for 

'  Yours  faithfully, 

'  P.  B.  BRONTE/ 

Mrs.  Kirby  had  not  been  quite  satisfied  with 
the  pictures  before-mentioned  ;  but,  on  hearing 
Mr.  Thompson's  favourable  opinion,  she  at  once 
gave  way.  Although  Branwell  ceased  his 
residence  at  Bradford  for  the  reasons  assigned, 
he  afterwards  painted  portraits  occasionally  at 
Haworth ;  but  also  frequently  visited  his  friends 
at  the  former  place,  having  become  acquainted 
with  the  poets  and  artists  of  the  neighbourhood, 
as  we  shall  presently  see. 

Miss  Robinson  has  undertaken  to  draw  Bran- 
well's  portrait  at  this  juncture  of  his  affairs, 
when  she  says  he  had  attained  the  age  of 
twenty  years,  though  in  fact  he  was  twenty- 
two  ;  and  the  following  is  the  labour  of  her 
hands :  '  He  went  to  Bradford  as  a  portrait- 

VOL.  I.  N 


painter,  and — so  impressive  is  audacity — actu- 
ally succeeded  for  some  months  in  gaining  a 
living  there  ....  His  tawny  mane,  his  pose  of 
untaught  genius,  his  verses  in  the  poet's  corner 
of  the  paper  could  not  for  ever  keep  afloat  this 
untaught  and  thriftless  portrait-painter  of  twenty. 
Soon  there  came  an  end  to  his  painting  there. 
He  disappeared  from  Bradford  suddenly,  heavily 
in  debt,  and  was  lost  to  sight  until,  unnerved, 
a  drunkard,  and  an  opium-eater,  he  came  back 
to  home  and  Emily  at  Haworth.'1 

These  statements  are  simply  untrue.  I  have 
the  positive  information  of  one  who  knew  Bran- 
well  in  Leeds,  and  who  resided  in  Bradford 
at  the  time  when  he  was  there,  that  he 
did  not  leave  that  town  in  debt ;  that  he  cer- 
tainly was  not  a  drunkard ;  and  that,  if  he  took 
anything  at  all,  it  was  but  occasionally,  and 
then  no  more  than  the  commonest  custom  would 
permit.  I  would  rather  believe — if  all  other 

1  '  Emily  Bronte,'  p.  64.  It  may  be  noted  here,  to  show 
in  some  sort  what  amount  of  credibility  attaches  to  these 
representations,  that  Miss  Robinson  has  placed  BraiiwelTs 
portrait-painting  at  Bradford  subsequent  to  his  tutorship 
at  Broughton-in-Furness,  though  really  he  did  not  go  there 
until  a  year  later. 


evidence  were  wanting — the  account  of  Bran- 
well  given  by  the  friends  who  knew  him  per- 
sonally, and  who,  at  the  moment  in  which  I 
write,  are  still  living  on  the  spot  where  he 
exerted  himself  to  gain  a  living  by  the  labour 
of  his  own  hands,  than  the  unfair,  unjust,  and 
exaggerated  charges  quoted  above.  But  Bran- 
well's  letter  to  his  friend  disposes  at  once  of 
the  assertion  that  he  *  disappeared  from  Brad- 
ford suddenly,  heavily  in  debt,  and  was  lost  to 
sight.'  And,  as  to  the  statement  that  he  was 
unnerved  and  a  drunkard,  one  should  surely 
rather  accept  the  evidence  of  those  who  knew 
him,  that  he  was,  on  the  contrary,  as  they 
unhesitatingly  say,  '  a  quiet,  unassuming  young 
man,  retiring,  and  diffident,  seeming  rather  of 
a  passive  nature,  and  delicate  constitution,  than 
otherwise.'  And,  moreover,  his  visits  to  Brad- 
ford, after  he  had  given  up  his  profession  there, 
were  frequent,  for  his  literary  tastes,  his  artistic 
pursuits,  and  his  musical  abilities  had  secured 
him  many  friends  in  that  town.  Assuredly  the 
biographer  of  Emily  has  been  very  unfortunate, 
to  say  the  least,  in  her  account  of  Branwell's 
honest,  upright,  and  honourable  endeavour  to 



make  his  living  by  the   profession   of  art   at 

Miss  Robinson  asserts  that  Branwell  was 
an  opium-eater  '  of  twenty,'  in  addition  to 
the  other  baneful  habits  she  ascribes  to 
him.  There  is,  however,  no  reliable  evidence 
that,  at  this  period  of  his  life,  he  was  any 
such  thing ;  and,  considering  the  fact  that 
the  biographer  of  Emily  has  assigned  Bran- 
well's  art-practice  at  Bradford  to  a  period  sub- 
sequent to  his  tutorship  at  Broughton-in-Fur- 
ness,  one  may,  perhaps,  be  permitted  to  suspect 
that  she  is  equally  in  error  in  her  assertions  as 
to  his  opium-eating  so  young.  Branwell  didr 
indeed,  later,  fall  into  the  baneful  habit,  and 
suffered  at  times  in  consequence ;  but  there  is 
no  reason  to  believe  that  he  became  wholly 
subject  to  it,  or  was  greatly  injured  by  the 
practice,  either  in  mind  or  body.  We  can  only 
surmise  as  to  the  original  cause  of  his  use  of 
opium ;  but,  when  we  consider  the  extraordin- 
ary fascination  which  De  Quincey's  wonderful 
book  had  for  the  younger  generation  of  literary 
men  of  his  day,  we  shall  recognize  that  Bran- 
well,  who  read  the  book,  in  all  probability  fell 


under  its  influence.  Let  us  remember,  more- 
over, that  the  young  man's  two  sisters  had  died 
of  consumption,  and  that  De  Quincey  declares 
the  use  of  the  drug  had  saved  him  from  the 
fate  of  his  father  who  had  fallen  a  victim 
to  the  same  scourge.  Lastly,  it  should  not  be 
forgotten  that,  in  the  first  half  of  this  century, 
the  use  of  opium  became,  in  some  sort,  fashion- 
able amongst  literary  men,  and  that  many  ad- 
mirers of  De  Quincey  and  Coleridge  deemed  that 
the  practice  had  received  a  sufficient  sanction. 
But  the  former  of  these  writers  had  used  the 
drug  intermittently,  and  we  have  reason  to 
believe  that  Branwell,  who  followed  him,  did 
likewise.  Let  us,  then,  imagine  the  young 
Bronte,  revelling  in  the  realm  of  the  dreamy 
and  impassioned,  and  hoping  fondly  that  con- 
sumption might  be  driven  away,  resolving  to 
try  the  effect  of  the  *  dread  agent  of  unimagin- 
able pleasure  and  pain,'  a  proceeding  from  which 
many  less  brave  would  have  shrunk.  Branwell 
had  doubtless  read,  in  the  '  Confessions  of  an 
English  Opium-eater,'  that  the  drug  does  not 
disorder  the  system;  but  gives  tone,  a  sort  of 
health,  that  might  be  natural  if  it  were  not  for 


the  means  by  which  it  is  procured.  He  would 
believe  that — in  one  under  this  magic  spell,  that 
is — 'the  diviner  part  of  his  nature  is  paramount, 
the  moral  affections  are  in  a  state  of  cloudless 
serenity;  and  high  over  all  the  great  light  of 
the  majestic  intellect.'  Mrs.  Gaskell  describes 
the  operation  of  opium  upon  herself.  She  says : 
'  I  asked  her '  (Charlotte)  '  whether  she  had  ever 
taken  opium,  as  the  description  of  its  effects, 
given  in  "  Villette,"  was  so  exactly  like  what 
I  had  experienced — vivid  and  exaggerated  pre- 
sence of  objects  of  which  the  outlines  were 
indistinct,  or  lost  in  golden  mist,  etc.'1  Bran- 
well  could  not  have  tasted  these  stronger  effects 
of  the  drug  when  he  first  made  use  of  it ;  but 
it  should  be  remembered  that  he  several  times 
recurred  to  the  practice,  and  suffered  the  con- 
sequent pains  and  penalties. 

After  his  portrait-painting  at  Bradford,  he 
never  again  resided  there,  and  it  was  about 
the  period  of  his  leaving  that  place  that  he 
began  to  see  the  artistic  career  he  had  chosen 
was  a  mistake,  and  he  determined  to  give  it 
up  as  a  profession.  Moreover,  other  influences,. 
1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap,  xxvii. 


as  we  sHall  see,  had  been,  and  were  still,  at 
work  upon  him  which  caused  him  to  turn  once 
more  to  literature.  From  the  period  of  his 
acquaintance  with  the  drawing-masters,  he  had 
become  associated  with  the  literary  as  well  as 
the  artistic  circles  of  the  neighbourhood;  and 
he  anticipated  the  literary  future  of  his  sisters. 




New  Inspiration  of  Poetry — Wordsworth — Southey,  Scott, 
and  Byron — Southey  to  Charlotte  Bronte — Hartley 
Coleridge — His  Worthies  of  Yorkshire — Poets  of  the 
West-Riding — Alaric  A.  Watts — Branwell's  Literary 

IN  the  early  part  of  the  present  century,  the 
spirit  of  poetry  began  to  make  itself  felt  in 
quarters  where  previously  it  had  never  been 
known.  The  pedantic  affectation  of  the  Delia 
Cruscan  school  gave  place,  in  the  works  of  a 
passionate  lover  of  Nature  like  Wordsworth,  to 
a  fresher  and  purer  inspiration,  that  delighted 
in  familiar  themes  of  domestic  and  rural  beauty, 
which  were  often  both  humble  and  obscure. 
It  was  Wordsworth,  indeed,  who  '  developed 
the  theory  of  poetry,' — as  Branwell  Bronte  well 


knew — that  has  worked  a  greater  change  in 
literature  than  has,  perhaps,  been  known  since 
the  period  of  the  Renaissance.  In  his  endeav- 
our to  solve  the  difficulty  of  '  fitting  to  metrical 
arrangement  a  selection  of  the  real  language 
of  men  in  a  state  of  vivid  sensation,'  Words- 
worth had  prepared  the  way  for  a  natural  out- 
burst of  poetic  feeling,  occupied  with  familiar 
and  simple  topics.  The  writers  of  the  so-called 
'  Lake  School '  of  poets,  and  especially  Words- 
worth, Coleridge,  and  Southey,  were,  in  fact, 
the  leaders  of  the  new  movement;  and,  speedi- 
ly, responsive  to  the  free  note  of  genius  un- 
curbed, there  arose  from  many  an  unknown 
place  in  England  the  sweet  sound  of  poetic 
voices  not  heard  before.  At  the  same  time, 
the  touch  of  romanticism,  which  was  imparted 
by  Scott  and  Byron,  had  a. great  influence  on 
many  of  the  younger  poets  of  the  new  school. 
It  is  evident,  to  anyone  who  has  studied  the 
local  literature  of  that  time,  that  the  works 
produced  under  such  inspiration  were  often  of 
great  and  permanent  merit.  Southey,  writing 
to  Charlotte  Bronte  in  1837, indeed  says,  'Many 
volumes  of  poems  are  now  published  every  year 


•without  attracting  public  attention,  any  one  of 
which,  if  it  had  appeared  half-a-century  ago,, 
would  have  obtained  a  high  reputation  for  its 

Nowhere,  probably,  in  England  was  the  in- 
fluence of  the  poets  of  Westmoreland  felt  more 
deeply  than  in  the  valleys  of  the  West-Riding 
of  Yorkshire.  Indeed,  a  young  publisher  of 
that  district,  Mr.  F.  E.  Bingley,  had  sufficient 
appreciation  of  genius,  and  enterprise  enough, 
to  bring  him  to  Leeds  for  the  purpose  of  pub- 
lishing works  from  Hartley  Coleridge's  hand. 
The  younger  Coleridge — besides  the  prestige 
of  his  father  s  name — had  already  become  known 
as  an  occasional  contributor  to  'Blackwood's 
Magazine,'  wherein  first  appeared  his  poem  of 
'  Leonard  and  Susan,'  so  much  admired.  Mr. 
Bingley  entered  into  an  engagement  to  enable 
him  to  publish  two  volumes  of  poems,  and  a 
series  of  '  Biographical  notices  of  the  Worthies 
of  Yorkshire  and  Lancashire,'  which  Hartley 
Coleridge  was  to  write.  One  of  the  volumes 
of  poems  was  issued  from  the  press  in  1833, 
and  was  well  received.  '  The  Worthies '  pro- 
ceeded to  the  third  number,  forming  an  octavo- 


volume  of  six  hundred  and  thirty-two  pages, 
when  circumstances  compelled  Mr.  Bingley  to 
sell  the  remainders  to  another  publisher,  who 
issued  a  second  edition  of  this  well-known  work, 
with  a  new  title,  in  the  year  1836.  From  the 
same  press  there  came,  in  1834,  '  Cyril,  a  Poem 
in  Four  Cantos ;  and  Minor  Poems,'  by  George 
Wilson.  C.  F.  Edgar,  who  was  editor  of  the 
'  Yorkshire  Literary  Annual,'  the  first  volume 
of  which  appeared  in  1831,  was  also  the  author 
of  a  volume  of  poems,  published  by  Mr.  Bingley 
in  the  succeeding  year;  and  other  poetical 
works  followed  from  the  Leeds  press. 

But,  in  those  days,  there  was  scarcely  a 
locality  in  the  populous  West-Riding  of  York- 
shire without  its  poet,  and  that  poet,  too,  a 
man  of  no  mean  powers.  Nicholson,  the  Aire- 
dale poet,  had,  previously  to  the  time  of  which 
I  speak,  published  his  'Airedale,  and  other 
Poems,'  and  his  'Lyre  of  Ebor.'  His  poetical 
talents  were  really  excellent,  and  his  versatility,. 
and  the  happy  character  of  his  effusions,  made 
Nicholson  very  popular  in  the  West-Riding. 
He  died  in  1843.  The  gifted  poet  of  Gargrave, 
Robert  Story,  had  published,  in  earlier  years,. 


many  songs  and  poems  in  the  local  papers ; 
and  he  issued,  in  1836,  a  volume,  entitled,  '  The 
Magic  Fountain.'  This  was  followed,  in  1838, 
by  '  The  Outlaw/  and  by  '  Love  and  Literature,' 
in  the  year  1842.  This  poet  was  an  ardent 
partizan  of  the  Conservatives,  and  his  lyrical 
abilities  were  devoted  with  unflagging  energy 
to  their  cause.  His  '  Songs  and  Poems,'  and  his 
'  Lyrical,  and  other  Minor  Poems,'  were  sub- 
sequently published.  His  political  songs  were 
vigorous,  and  his  pastoral  ones  were  redolent 
of  pastures,  meadows,  and  moors,  breathing  all 
the  freshness  of  nature  in  its  happiest  time. 
Thomas  Crossley,  the  '  Bard  of  Ovenden,'  like 
Story,  possessed  of  lyrical  talents  of  the  highest 
order,  was  a  frequent  contributor  to  the  county 
papers ;  and  he  published,  in  1837,  an  admirable 
and  delightful  volume,  entitled,  '  The  Flowers 
of  Ebor.'  In  the  same  year,  William  Dearden, 
the  '  Bard  of  Caldene,'  the  possessor  of  high 
gifts,  published  his  'Star  Seer;  a  Poem  in 
Five  Cantos,'  which  was  distinguished  by  great 
power,  originality,  and  loftiness  of  conception. 
It  was  largely  influenced  by  the  spirit  of  roman- 
ticism, and  flowed  with  the  sweetest  diction. 


This  also  was  the  age  of  '  Souvenirs,'  '  Keep- 
sakes/ 'Forget-me-nots,'  and  'Annuals,'  which 
sold  very  largely,  and  contained  much  that  was 
really  good.  Heath,  the  proprietor  of  the 
'Keepsake,'  as  we  are  told  by  Southey,  sold 
fifteen  thousand  copies  in  one  year,  and  used 
four  thousand  yards  of  watered-silk  for  the  next 
issue ;  for  these  volumes  were  always  resplen- 
dent in  silk  and  gold.  Alaric  A.  Watts,  who 
published,  in  1822,  his  'Poetical  Sketches'  (a 
fourth  edition  of  which,  enlarged  and  exquisitely 
illustrated  with  designs  by  Stothard  and  Nes- 
field,  was  required),  became,  in  the  same  year, 
editor  of  the  'Leeds  Intelligencer,'  which  he 
conducted  with  much  spirit  and  ability.  He 
afterwards  established  the  '  Manchester  Courier,' 
which  he  for  some  time  edited,  and  was  well 
known  in  the  northern  shires.  In  1828  and 
1829  appeared  his  'Poetical  Album,'  'Scenes 
of  Life,  and  Shades  of  Character/  in  1831 ;  and 
from  1825  to  1834  he  produced  his  '  Literary 
Souvenir;  a  Cabinet  of  Poetry  and  .Romance/ 
with  great  and  deserved  success.  It  is  more 
than  likely  that  the  great  popularity  of  his 
venture  led  to  the  publication  of  'The  ^^^hite 


Eose  of  York,'  a  similar  volume,  which  was 
brought  out  at  Halifax  in.  the  year  1834.  This 
work  was  edited  by  George  Hogarth,  and,  in 
addition  to  the  authors  already  mentioned — who 
were,  with  the  exception  of  Nicholson,  the  Aire- 
dale poet,  and  the  Leeds  authors,  contributors 
to  it — were  F.  C.  Spencer,  author  of  '  The  Vale 
of  Bolton,'  a  volume  of  poems;  Henry  Ingram, 
author  of  a  volume  entitled,  '  Matilda ' ;  Henry 
Martin,  editor  of  the  '  Halifax  Express ' ;  John 
Roby,  author  of '  The  Traditions  of  Lancashire ; ' 
and  others.  There  was  also  in  the  work  a 
contribution,  entitled  '  Moiiey  Hall,' — treating 
of  a  legend  of  the  last-named  county — by  C. 
Peters,  the  subject  of  which  also  exercised  the 
abilities  of  the  author  of  '  The  Flowers  of  Ebor ' ; 
and  subsequently  interested  Branwell  Bronte  in 
a  similar  manner — his  friend  Leyland  having 
modelled  a  scene  from  the  story,  in  clay. 

It  is  beyond  question  that  these  literary  in- 
fluences, which  stirred  the  depths  of  feeling  in 
Yorkshire,  had  a  profound  effect  on  the  earlier 
writings  of  the  Brontes,  and  probably  were 
their  original  inspiration.  All  the  local  papers 
were  filled  with  the  news  of  the  literary  move- 


ment;  and  the  busy  brains  in  the  parsonage 
of  Haworth  could  not  but  be  raised  to  emula- 
tion by  the  tidings.  Branwell,  especially,  who 
knew  personally  many  of  the  workers  in  the 
new  field  whom  I  have  named,  and  was  never 
so  happy  as  when  he  could  enjoy  their  com- 
pany, was  soon  moved,  in  the  midst  of  his  art- 
aspirations,  to  partake  in  their  literary  labours. 
At  this  time,  the  tastes  of  the  Brontes  in  this 
direction,  and  their  progress  in  poetical  and 
prose  composition,  began  to  inspire  them  with 
hopes  and  anticipations  of  the  brightest  char- 
acter. From  childhood  their  attempts  at  literary 
composition  had  formed,  according  to  Charlotte 
herself,  the  highest  stimulus,  and  one  of  the 
liveliest  pleasures  they  had  known.  They  be- 
gan to  find  out  that  their  genius  was  not  artis- 
tic, but  literary,  and  to  pursue  its  bent  with 
increasing  ardour  and  the  warmest  interest. 

It  cannot  be  doubted  that  Branwell,  greatly 
influenced,  perhaps,  by  his  sisters,  or  they,  more 
probably,  by  him — for  they  ever  regarded  his 
genius  as  greater  than  their  own — was  soon 
employing  his  pen  as  often,  and  more  success- 
fully, than  his  pencil.  Mr.  Bronte's  daughters 


•were  possessed  largely  of  discriminating  and 
critical  powers,  sufficient  to  enable  them  to- 
judge  accurately  of  the  abilities  of  their  bro- 
ther ;  and  Mrs.  Gaskell  allows  that,  to  begin 
with,  he  was  perhaps  the  greatest  genius  of 
this  rare  family,  and  this  more  even  in  a  literary 
than  in  an  artistic  sense.  Their  favourable 
judgment  was  based  on  evidence  they  had 
before  them.  They  were  not  ignorant  of  his 
poetical  and  prose  compositions ;  and  that  these 
showed  great  beauty  of  thought  and  much 
felicity  of  expression,  as  well  as  considerable 
power,  originality,  and  freshness  of  treatment, 
the  evidences  will  appear  in  the  subsequent 




BranwelTs  Letter  to  Wordsworth,  with  Stanzas — Remarks 
upon  it — No  Reply — He  Tries  Again — His  Interest 
in  the  Manchester  and  Leeds  Railway — BranwelTs 
Literary  and  Artistic  Friends  at  Bradford  and  Halifax 
— Leyland's  Works  there — Branwell's  great  Interest 
in  them — Early  Verses — Mrs.  Gaskell's  Judgment  on 
his  Literary  Abilities. 

BRANWELL,  even  while  working  at  art  with 
great  energy,  was  not,  as  I  have  said,  oblivious 
of  his  literary  power.  While,  however,  the 
work  of  his  sisters  was  to  be  conducted  with 
great  earnestness  of  purpose,  it  was  unfortunate 
that  the  scintillations  of  Branwell's  genius  were 
too  often  fitful,  erratic,  and  uncertain  :  his  mind, 
indeed,  even  at  this  time,  was  unstable. 

It  may  be  noted,  as  characteristic  of  all  Mr. 
Bronte's  children,  that,  united  with  sterling  gifts 

VOL.  I.  O 


of  intellectual  power  and  literary  acumen,  there 
was  always  some  mistrust  as  to  the  merit  of 
their  own  productions,  especially  of  poetical 
ones.  They  seem  to  have  felt  themselves  like 
travellers  wandering  in  mist,  or  struggling 
through  a  thicket,  or  toiling  on  devious  paths 
with  no  reliable  information  at  hand,  until  they 
arrived  at  a  point  where  progress  looked  im- 
possible, until  they  had  obtained  a  guide  in 
whom  they  had  confidence.  It  appeared,  indeed, 
to  the  Brontes  that,  without  an  opinion  on  their 
work,  time  might  be  altogether  wasted  on  what 
was  unprofitable.  Charlotte,  therefore,  in  the 
December  of  1836,  determined  to  submit  some 
of  her  poems  to  the  judgment  of  Southey  ;  and 
it  would  seem  that  she  also  consulted  Hartley 

Before,  however,  Southey  had  answered  his 
sister's  letter,  Branwell  ventured,  in  a  similar 
spirit,  to  address  Wordsworth,  for  whose  writings 
he  had  a  great  admiration.  The  following  is 
his  letter ;  and,  although  it  has  been  previously 
published,  it  must  not  be  omitted  here.1 

1  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  viii. 


'  Haworth,  near  Bradford, 

'Yorkshire,  January  19th,  1837. 


'  I  most  earnestly  entreat  you  to  read 
and  pass  your  judgment  upon  what  I  have  sent 
you,  because  from  the  day  of  my  birth,  to  this 
the  nineteenth  year  of  my  life,  I  have  lived 
among  secluded  hills,  where  I  could  neither 
know  what  I  was,  or  what  I  could  do.  I  read 
for  the  same  reason  that  I  ate  or  drank — be- 
cause it  was  a  real  craving  of  nature.  I  wrote 
on  the  same  principle  as  I  spoke — out  of  the 
impulse  and  feelings  of  the  mind ;  nor  could 
I  help  it,  for  what  came,  came  out,  and  there 
was  the  end  of  it.  For  as  to  self-conceit,  that 
could  not  receive  food  from  flattery,  since  to 
this  hour  not  half-a-dozen  people  in  the  world 
know  that  I  have  ever  penned  a  line. 

'  But  a  change  has  taken  place  now,  sir ;  and 
I  am  arrived  at  an  age  wherein  I  must  do  some- 
thing for  myself:  the  powers  I  possess  must 
be  exercised  to  a  definite  end,  and  as  I  don't 
know  them  myself  I  must  ask  of  others  what 
they  are  worth.  Yet  there  is  not  one  here  to 



tell  me ;  and  still,  if  they  are  worthless,  time- 
will  henceforth  be  too  precious  to  be  wasted 
on  them. 

'  Do  pardon  me,  sir,  that  I  have  ventured  to 
come  before  one  whose  works  I  have  most 
loved  in  our  literature,  and  who  most  has  been 
with  me  a  divinity  of  the  mind,  laying  before 
him  one  of  my  writings,  and  asking  of  him  a 
judgment  of  its  contents.  I  must  come  before 
some  one  from  whose  sentence  there  is  no  ap- 
peal ;  and  such  a  one  is  he  who  has  developed 
the  theory  of  poetry  as  well  as  its  practice,  and 
both  in  such  a  way  as  to  claim  a  place  in  the 
memory  of  a  thousand  years  to  come. 

'My  aim,  sir,  is  to  push  out  into  the  open 
world,  and  for  this  I  trust  not  poetry  alone — 
that  might  launch  the  vessel,  but  could  not 
bear  her  on ;  sensible  and  scientific  prose,  bold 
and  vigorous  efforts  in  my  walk  in  life,  would 
give  a  further  title  to  the  notice  of  the  world  ; 
and  then,  again,  poetry  ought  to  brighten  and 
crown  that  name  with  glory ;  but  nothing  of 
all  this  can  be  ever  begun  without  means,  and 
as  I  don't  possess  these,  I  must  in  every  shape 
strive  to  .gain  them.  Surely,  in  this  day,  when 


there  is  not  a  writing  poet  worth  a  sixpence, 
the  field  must  be  open,  if  a  better  man  can  step 

'  What  I  send  you  is  the  Prefatory  Scene  of 
a  much  longer  subject,  in  which  I  have  striven 
to  develop  strong  passions  and  weak  principles 
struggling  with  a  high  imagination  and  acute 
feelings,  till,  as  youth  hardens  towards  old  age, 
evil  deeds  and  short  enjoyments  end  in  mental 
misery  and  bodily  ruin.  Now,  to  send  you  the 
whole  of  this  would  be  a  mock  upon  your 
patience  ;  what  you  see,  does  not  even  pretend 
to  be  more  than  the  description  of  an  imagina- 
tive child.  But  read  it,  sir  ;  and,  as  you  would 
hold  a  light  to  one  in  utter  darkness — as  you 
value  your  own  kind-heartedness — return  me  an 
answer,  if  but  one  word,  telling  me  whether  I 
should  write  on,  or  write  no  more.  Forgive 
undue  warmth,  because  my  feelings  in  this  mat- 
ter cannot  be  cool ;  and  believe  me,  sir,  with 
<leep  respect, 

'  Your  really  humble  servant, 

« P.  B.  BRONTE.' 

Mrs.  Gaskell  gives  the  following  six  stanzas, 


which  are  about  a  third  of  the  whole,  and 
declares  them  not  to  be  the  worst  part  of  the 
composition  : — 

'  So  where  He  reigns  in  glory  bright, 
Above  those  starry  skies  of  night, 
Amid  His  Paradise  of  light, 

Oh,  why  may  I  not  be  ? 

'  Oft  Avhen  awake  on  Christmas  niorn, 
In  sleepless  twilight  laid  forlorn, 
Strange  thoughts  have  o'er  my  mind  been  borne 
How  He  has  died  for  me. 

'  And  oft,  within  my  chamber  lying, 
Have  I  awaked  myself  with  crying, 
From  dreams,  where  I  beheld  Him  dying 
Upon  the  accursed  tree. 

'  And  often  has  my  mother  said, 
While  on  her  lap  I  laid  my  head, 
She  feared  for  time  I  was  not  made, 
But  for  Eternity. 

'  So  "  I  can  read  my  title  clear 

To  mansions  in  the  skies, 
And  let  me  bid  farewell  to  fear, 
And  wipe  my  weeping  eyes." 

'  I'll  lay  me  down  on  this  marble  stone, 

And  set  the  world  aside, 

To  see  upon  her  ebon  throne 

The  Moon  in  glory  ride.' 

BranwelFs  letter  to  Wordsworth  is,  for  the 
most  part,  well  written,  and  breathes  an  eager 


spirit,  which  shows  the  anxiety  he  was  under 
to  know  the  opinion  of  a  high  and  competent 
judge  as  to  how  he  stood  Avith  the  Nine.  It 
tells  us  the  ardour  with  which  he  read  and 
wrote,  the  ambitious  turn  of  his  mind,  and  the 
special  aims  which  he  then  had  in  the  literary 
world.  But  the  verses,  although  imbued  with 
a  fervent  spirit  of  early  piety,  were  such  as 
AVords  worth  could  not  justly  review  without 
giving  discouragement,  and  it  seems  probable 
he  preferred  to  keep  silence  rather  than,  by  an 
open  avowal,  to  give  pain — if  pain  must  be 
given — as  the  lesser  evil  of  the  two.  Or,  per- 
haps, he  took  amiss  the  ready  frankness  and 
apparent  self-esteem  which,  notwithstanding  the 
disavowal,  would  probably  seem  present  to  him 
in  the  letter  of  the  young  stranger  who  address- 
ed him,  without  sending  any  evidence  of  the 
powers  of  which  he  expressed  himself  so  con- 
fidently. But,  at  any  rate,  Mrs.  Gaskell  in- 
forms us  that  the  letter  and  verses  were  pre- 
served by  the  poet  till  the  Brontes  became 
celebrated,  and  that  he  gave  the  communication 
to  his  friend,  Mr.  Quillinan,  in  1850,  when  the 
real  name  of  '  Currer  Bell '  became  known. 


It  must  not  be  overlooked  that,  in  the  verses 
which  Mrs.  Gaskell  has  printed,  we  have  no 
opportunity  of  studying  Branwell's  dramatic 
powers,  which  apparently  found  scope  in  the 
poem  he  had  written.  In  them  is  no  develop- 
ment of  the  effect  of  the  passionate  feelings 
-which  Branwell  describes :  '  struggling  with  a 
high  imagination  and  acute  feelings,'  and  ending 
*  in  mental  misery  and  bodily  ruin.' 

However,  discouraged  by  long  waiting,  or 
assisted  by  friendly  advice  and  criticism,  he 
toiled  on  in  silence  at  his  literary  work,  as  he 
did  at  art.  The  year  1837  turned  out  an 
•important  one  for  Charlotte.  In  March,  she  at 
last  received  the  answer  from  Southey,  which 
she  considered  a  '  little  stringent,'  and  from 
which  she  declared  she  had  derived  good.  She 
says,  in  her  reply  to  the  Laureate,  '  I  trust  I 
shall  never  more  feel  ambitious  to  see  my  name 
in  print  ....  That  letter  is  consecrated;  no 
one  shall  ever  see  it,  but  papa,  and  my  brother 
and  my  sisters.' 

It  would  seem  that  Branwell,  notwithstanding 
the  failure  of  his  first  venture  with  Wordsworth, 
tried  again,  at  a  later  date,  with  some  other, 


and  more  matured,  compositions,  Avhich  he  sub- 
mitted to  that  poet  and  to  Hartley  Coleridge, 
4  who  both,'  says  Mrs.  Gaskell,  '  expressed  kind 
and  laudatory  opinions.'  But,  perhaps,  the  fact 
that,  to  the  letter  quoted  above,  Wordsworth 
sent  no  answer,  and  did  not  tell  him  whether 
he  should  '  write  on,  or  write  no  more,'  dis- 
couraged Branwell  for  a  time;  and  he  may 
have  been  led  to  suspect  that  his  productions 
were  worthless,  and  that  time  might  'hence- 
forth be  too  precious  to  be  wasted  upon  them.' 
In  this  way,  perhaps,  he  was  induced  to  turn 
with  greater  energy  to  his  profession  of  art,  as 
a  means  of  getting  on,  of  which  I  spoke 
in  a  former  chapter,  though  we  shall  see  that 
he  did  not  abandon  his  literary  work. 

Branwell  also  now  found  opportunities  of 
making  himself  acquainted  with  the  grand  and 
wild  scenery  of  the  mountainous  borders  of  the 
counties  of  York  and  Lancaster,  a  wider  dis- 
trict than  his  sisters  could  well  survey. 

The  Manchester  and  Leeds  Railway  was,  at 
the  time,  in  course  of  construction  below  Little- 
borough,  passing  through  the  picturesque  and 
romantic  vale  of  Todmorden.  Branwell  be- 


came  greatly  interested  in  the  work ;  and  as 
stores,  and  other  things  for  the  completion  of 
the  line  to  Hebden  Bridge,  were  forwarded 
from  Littleborough  by  canal,  having  been  pre- 
viously sent  to  that  place  from  Manchester  by 
train,  he  soon  ingratiated  himself  with  the  boat- 
men, and  was  frequently  seen  in  their  boats, 
It  was  011  one  of  these  occasions  that  Mr, 
Woolven,  previously  mentioned,  who  was  offici- 
ally employed  on  the  works,  recognized  at  once 
the  clever  young  man  who  had  surprised  the 
company  at  the  '  Castle  Tavern,'  Holborn,  and 
entered  into  conversation  with  him.  These 
incidents  led  to  a  friendly  intercourse  between 
them,  which  continued  for  some  years. 

Among  his  Bradford  acquaintances,  Branwell 
numbered,  in  addition  to  Geller,  the  mezzotinto- 
engraver,  previously  mentioned,  Wilson  Ander- 
son, an  admirable  landscape  painter,  whose  pro- 
ductions are  valued  as  truthful  pictures  of  the 
places  they  represent,  and  on  account  of  the 
skilfulness  of  their  manipulation  and  colouring; 
and  also  Richard  Waller,  a  well-known  and 
excellent  portrait  painter.  To  these  may  be 


added  Edward  Collinson,  a  local  poet ;  Robert 
Story;  and  John  James,  the  future  historian 
of  Bradford.  All  these  were  personal  acquaint- 
ances of  Branwell,  as  well  as  of  Leyland,  and 
the  intercourse  between  them  was  frequent. 
For  more  than  twenty  years  a  party  of  these 
friends  was  accustomed  to  meet,  from  time  to 
time,  at  the  '  George  Hotel,'  Bradford,  under 
the  auspices  of  Miss  Rennie,  who  greatly  prided 
herself  on  seeing  at  her  house,  in  their  hours 
of  leisure,  the  artistic  and  literary  celebrities  of 
the  neighbourhood.  Leyland  was  at  Halifax, 
being  there  to  erect  certain  monuments,  which 
he  had  executed  in  London  for  various  patrons 
in  his  native  town.  While  there,  he  modelled, 
in  the  upper  room  of  an  ancient  house,  his 
colossal  group  of  '  African  Bloodhounds,'  his 
model  being  a  living  specimen  of  the  breed ; 
and  the  group,  which  was  exhibited  in  London, 
was  favourably  noticed.  Landseer  regarded  it 
as  the  '  noblest  modern  work  of  its  kind.'  It 
is  now  in  the  Salford  Museum.  The  progress 
of  this  group  intensely  interested  Branwell  and 
his  Bradford  friends  ;  and  they  frequently  visited 


Leyland's  temporary  studio.  It  also  formed  the 
subject  of  a  poem  by  Dearden.1  Finding  this 
studio  of  insufficient  height  for  a  great  work 
he  contemplated — a  colossal  group  of  '  Thracian 
Falconers  ' — Leyland  afterwards  took  a  suitable 
place  in  another  part  of  the  town,  which,  like- 
wise, became  a  meeting-place  of  the  local  literati. 
The  new  work  was  to  consist  of  three  figures, 
the  centre  one  being  seated,  and  having  upon 
his  right  fore-finger  a  hawk ;  while  his  left  hand 
rested  on  the  shoulder  of  a  youth  just  roused,  as 
if  by  some  sudden  sound  ;  and,  on  his  right,  was 
a  similar  youth,  half-recumbent,  and  also  in  a 
listening  attitude.  The  centre  figure  was  alone 
completed,  and  is  now  in  the  Salford  Museum. 

Branwell,  on  his  visits  to  the  artist's  studio, 
often  lamented  the  dissipation  of  his  high  artis- 
tic hopes,  and  confessed  that  he  saw  with  pain 
how  misplaced  his  confidence  in  his  own  powers 
had  been.  But  the  sculptor  was  a  poet  also, 
and  thus  Branwell  and  he  worked  in  the  same 
field.  Many  of  Leyland's  poems  were  published 

1  '  The  Death  of  Leyland's  African  Bloodhound,'  by 
William  Dearden,  author  of  'The  Star-Seer.'  London, 
1887.  (Longmans.) 


in  the  Yorkshire  papers,  and  also  in  the  '  Morn- 
ing Chronicle,'  and  were  always  considered  to 
be  of  true  poetic  excellence.  Branwell  relied 
much  on  the  artist's  judgment  in  literary  mat- 
ters, and  often  submitted  his  productions  to 

Although  Bronte  had,  as  we  have  seen, 
abandoned  the  hope  of  a  high  artistic  career, 
he  still  clung  to  the  practice  of  portrait-paint- 
ing, and  this  gave  him  leisure  to  court  the  muse. 
The  following  are  the  earliest  of  his  poems,  of 
which  the  MSS.  are  in  my  possession  ;  and  these 
are  fragments  only.  The  first  is  a  verse  of 
eleven  lines,  dated  January  23rd,  1838,  which 
originally  concluded  a  poem  of  sixty  ; — 

'  There's  many  a  grief  to  shade  the  scene, 

And  hide  the  starry  skies ; 
But  all  such  clouds  that  intervene 

From  mortal  life  arise. 
And — may  I  smile — 0  God !  to  see 
Their  storms  of  sorrow  beat  on  me, 

When  I  so  surely  know- 
That  Thou,  the  while,  art  shining  on ; 
That  I,  at  last,  when  they  are  gone, 
Shall  see  the  glories  of  Thy  throne, 

So  far  more  bright  than  now.' 

This  fragment,  written  by  Branwell  at  the 


age  of  twenty-one,  is  characteristic  of  the  early 
tone  of  his  mind.  His  naturally  amiable  and 
susceptible  disposition  had  soon  become  imbued 
with  the  spirit  of  Christian  piety  which  sur- 
rounded his  life.  He  was,  too,  at  the  time,  full 
of  noble  impulses  and  high  aspirations  ;  but  the 
shade  of  melancholy  implanted  in  his  constitu- 
tion had  begun  to  influence  his  writings.  The 
following,  which  is  the  beginning  of  another 
poem,  must  have  been  written  in  some  such 
thoughtful  mood,  though  the  title  is  not  borne 
out  in  the  portion  I  am  able  to  give. 


MAY,  1838. 

'  Oh!  on  this  first  bright  Mayday  inoru, 

That  seems  to  change  our  earth  to  Heaven, 
May  my  own  bitter  thoughts  be  borne, 

With  the  wild  winter  it  has  driven  ! 
Like  this  earth,  may  my  mind  be  made 

To  feel  the  freshness  round  me  spreading, 

No  other  aid  to  rouse  it  needing 
Than  thy  glad  light,  so  long  delayed. 

Sweet  woodland  sunshine !  — none  but  thee 

Can  wake  the  joys  of  memory, 
Which  seemed  decaying,  as  all  decayed. 

*  0  !  may  they  bud,  as  thou  dost  now, 
With  promise  of  a  summer  near  ! 


Nay — let  me  feel  my  weary  brow — 

Where  are  the  ringlets  wreathing  there  ? 
Why  does  the  hand  that  shades  it  tremble? 

Why  do  these  limbs,  so  languid,  shun 

Their  walk  beneath  the  morning  sun  ? 
Ah,  mortal  Self !  couldst  thou  dissemble 

Like  Sister-Soul !     But  forms  refuse 

The  real  and  unreal  to  confuse. 
But,  with  caprice  of  fancy,  She 
Joins  things  long  past  with  things  to  be, 
Till  even  I  doubt  if  I  have  told 

My  tale  of  woes  and  wonders  o'er, 
Or  think  Her  magic  can  unfold 

A  phantom  path  of  joys  before — 
Or,  laid  beneath  this  Mayday  blaze — 
Ask,  "  Live  I  o'er  departed  days  ?" 
Am  I  the  child  by  Gambia's  side, 
Beneath  its  woodlands  waving  wide  ? 
Have  I  the  footsteps  bounding  free, 
The  happy  laugh  of  infancy  ?' 

Ill  this  beautiful  fragment  we  have  the  first 
passionate  out-pouring  of  the  self-imposed  woes, 
which,  proceeding  from  within,  were  thereafter 
to  overspread  and  tincture  with  darkest  colours 
every  thought  of  Branwell's  mind.  We  see  him 
here  for  a  moment,  standing  in  incipient  melan- 
cholia, in  what  appears  to  him  to  be  a  desert 
of  mental  despondency  ;  but,  turning  back  with 
a  fond  affection  for  the  past,  and  recalling,  in 


plaintive  words,  the  joys  of  '  departed  days.' 
He  seems  here,  indeed,  to  seek  in  the  mysteries 
of  the  soul  those  pleasures  and  hopes  which  his 
mortal  self  cannot  afford  him.  Branwell  never 
appears  to  have  forgotten,  as  I  have  previously 
suggested,  the  sad  circumstances  of  the  death 
of  his  sisters;  and  his  solitary  broodings  over 
these  visitations  gave  a  morbid  tone  to  his 
writings.  It  was  in  1838  that  he  adopted  the 
pseudonym  of  '  Northangerland.'  His  earlier 
poems,  although  occasionally  showing  some 
power,  were  not  sufficiently  gifted  to  add  to 
the  lustre  of  Bronte  literature. 

Mrs-.  Gaskell,  alluding  to  Branwell's  literary 
abilities  about  this  time,  says :  '  In  a  fragment 
of  one  of  his  manuscripts  which  I  have  read, 
there  is  a  justness  and  felicity  of  expression 
which  is  very  striking.  It  is  the  beginning  of 
a  tale,  and  the  actors  in  it  are  drawn  with  much 
of  the  grace  of  characteristic  portrait-painting, 
in  perfectly  pure  and  simple  language,  which 
distinguishes  so  many  of  Addison's  papers  in 
the  "  Spectator."  The  fragment  is  too  short  to 
afford  the  means  of  judging  whether  he  had 
much  dramatic  talent,  as  the  persons  of  the 


story  are  not  thrown  into  conversation.  But, 
altogether,  the  elegance  and  composure  of  style 
are  such  as  one  would  not  have  expected  from 
this  vehement  and  ill-fated  young  man.  He 
had,'  continues  Mrs.  Gaskell,  '  a  stronger  desire 
for  literary  fame  burning  in  his  heart  than  even 
that  which  occasionally  flashed  up  in  his  sisters'.' 
She  says  also  that,  '  He  tried  various  outlets  for 
his  talents and  he  frequently  con- 
tributed verses  to  the  "  Leeds  Mercury." '  The 
latter  statement,  however,  is  incorrect,  for  no- 
thing of  Branwell's  appears  in  that  journal. 

VOL.  I. 




The  Poetical  bent  of  Branwell's  Genius — '  Caroline's 
Prayer ' — '  On  Caroline  ' — '  Caroline ' — Spirit  of  these 
Early  Effusions. 

WHILE  Branwell  was  occupying  his  leisure  as 
stated  in  the  last  chapter,  and  otherwise  em- 
ploying himself  in  a  desultory  way,  he  pursued 
the  poetic  bent  of  his  genius,  and  sought  the 
improvement  of  his  diction  and  verse.  Among 
the  earliest  of  his  poetical  productions,  the 
following  are,  perhaps,  the  best.  They  are 
distinguished  by  a  similar  train  of  thought  and 
reflection,  and  by  similar  sentiments  of  piety 
and  devotion,  as  also  by  the  same  gloom  and 
sadness  of  mood,  which  pervade  the  poems  of 
his  sisters.  Indeed,  without  knowing  they  were 


actually  Branwell's,  we  might  easily  believe 
them  to  be  from  the  pen  of  Charlotte,  Emily, 
or  Anne. 

The  three  following  poetical  essays  are  on 
'Caroline,'  under  which  name  Branwell  indicates 
his  sister  Maria ;  and,  in  two  of  them,  he  records 
his  reminiscences  of  her  death  and  funeral  obse- 
quies. The  first  of  the  three,  which  he  has 
framed  in  the  sentiments  and  words  of  a  child, 
is  entitled : 



'  My  Father,  and  my  childhood's  guide  ! 
If  oft  I've  wandered  far  from  Thee  ; 
E'en  though  Thine  only  Son  has  died 
To  save  from  death  a  child  like  me ; 

'  0  !  still — to  Thee  when  turns  my  heart 

In  hours  of  sadness,  frequent  now — 
Be  Thou  the  God  that  once  Thou  wert, 
And  calm  my  breast,  and  clear  my  brow. 

'  I'm  now  no  more  a  little  child 

O'ershadowed  by  Thy  mighty  wing ; 
My  very  dreams  seem  now  more  wild 
Than  those  my  slumbers  used  to  bring. 



'  I  further  see — I  deeper  feel — 

With  hope  more  warm,  but  heart  less  mild  ;. 
And  former  things  new  shapes  reveal, 
All  strangely  brightened  or  despoiled. 

'  I'm  entering  on  Life's  open  tide  ; 

So — farewell  childhood's  shores  divine ! 
And,  oh,  my  Father,  deign  to  guide, 
Through  these  wide  waters,  Caroline  !' 

The  second  is : 


'  The  light  of  thy  ancestral  hall, 

Thy  Caroline,  no  longer  smiles  : 
She  has  changed  her  palace  for  a  pall, 

Her  garden  walks  for  minster  aisles : 
Eternal  sleep  has  stilled  her  breast 

Where  peace  and  pleasure  made  their  shrine  ; 
Her  golden  head  has  sunk  to  rest — 

Oh,  would  that  rest  made  calmer  mine  ! 

'  To  thee,  while  watching  o'er  the  bed 

Where,  mute  and  motionless,  she  lay, 
How  slow  the  midnight  moments  sped ! 

How  void  of  sunlight  woke  the  day  ! 
Nor  ope'd  her  eyes  to  morning's  beam, 

Though  all  around  thee  woke  to  her ; 
Nor  broke  thy  raven-pinioned  dream 

Of  coffin,  shroud,  and  sepulchre. 


•  Why  beats  thy  breast  when  hei's  is  still  ? 

Why  linger'st  thou  when  she  is  gone? 
Hop'st  thou  to  light  on  good  or  ill  ? 

To  find  companionship  alone  ? 
Perhaps  thou  think'st  the  churchyard  stone 

Can  hide  past  smiles  and  bury  sighs : 
That  Memory,  with  her  soul,  has  flown  ; 

That  thou  canst  leave  her  where  she  lies. 

1  No  !  joy  itself  is  but  a  shade, 

So  well  may  its  remembrance  die ; 
But  cares,  life's  conquerors,  never  fade, 

So  strong  is  their  reality  ! 
Thou  may'st  forget  the  day  which  gave 

That  child  of  beauty  to  thy  side, 
But  not  the  moment  when  the  grave 

Took  back  again  thy  borrowed  bride.' 

Here  Branwell,  though  he  has  changed  the 
form  of  expression  and  the  circumstance  of  the 
loss,  is  still  occupied  with  the  same  theme  of 
family  bereavement,  with  which  Charlotte  herself 
was  so  much  impressed. 

The  following  was  intended  as  the  first  canto 
of  a  long  poem.  It  also  is  entitled,  *  Caroline  ;' 
and  is  the  soliloquy  of  one  '  Harriet,'  who 
mourns  for  her  sister,  the  subject  of  the  poem, 
calling  to  mind  her  early  recollection  of  the 
death  and  funeral  of  the  departed  one.  It  is 


extremely  probable  that  Branwell  made  *  Har- 
riet' a  vehicle  of  expression  for  Charlotte  or 
Emily,  as  he  had  adopted  the  name  of  '  Caro- 
line '  for  Maria. 


'  Calm  and  clear  the  day  declining, 

Lends  its  brightness  to  the  air, 
"With  a  slanted  sunlight  shining, 

Mixed  with  shadows  stretching  far  : 
Slow  the  river  pales  its  glancing, 
Soft  its  waters  cease  their  dancing, 
As  the  hush  of  eve  advancing 

Tells  our  toils  that  rest  is  near. 

'  Why  is  such  a  silence  given 

To  this  summer  day's  decay  ? 
Does  our  earth  feel  aught  of  Heaven  ? 

Can  the  voice  of  Nature  pray  ? 
And  when  daylight's  toils  are  done, 
Beneath  its  mighty  Maker's  throne, 
Can  it,  for  noontide  sunshine  gone, 

Its  debt  with  smiles  repay  ? 

'  Quiet  airs  of  sacred  gladness 

Breathing  through  these  woodlands  wild,. 
O'er  the  whirl  of  mortal  madness 
Spread  the  slumbers  of  a  child : 


These  surrounding  sweeps  of  trees 
Swaying  to  the  evening  breeze, 
With  a  voice  like  distant  seas, 
Making  music  mild. 

'  Woodchurch  Hall  above  them  lowering 

Dark  against  the  pearly  sky, 
With  its  clustered  chimneys  towering, 

Wakes  the  wind  while  passing  by  : 
And  in  old  ancestral  glory, 
Round  that  scene  of  ancient  story, 
All  its  oak-trees,  huge  and  hoary, 

Wave  their  boughs  on  high. 

'  'Mid  those  gables  there  is  one — 

The  soonest  dark  when  day  is  gone — 
Which,  when  autumn  winds  are  strongest, 

Moans  the  most  and  echoes  longest : 
There — with  her  curls  like  sunset  air, 
Like  it  all  balmy,  bright,  and  fair — 
Sits  Harriet,  with  her  cheek  reclined 

On  arm  as  white  as  mountain  snow ; 
While,  with  a  bursting  swell,  her  mind 

Fills  with  thoughts  of  "  Long  Ago." 

'  As  from  yon  spire  a  funeral  bell, 
Wafting  through  heaven  its  mourning  knell, 
Warns  man  that  life's  uncertain  day 
Like  lifeless  Nature's  must  decay  ; 
And  tells  her  that  the  warning  deep 


Speaks  where  her  own  forefathers  sleep, 
And  where  destruction  makes  a  prey 

Of  what  was  once  this  world  to  her, 
But  which — like  other  gods  of  clay — 

Has  cheated  its  blind  worshipper  : 
With  swelling  breast  and  shining  eyes 
That  seem  to  chide  the  thoughtless  skies, 
She  strives  in  words  to  find  relief 
For  long-pent  thoughts  of  mellowed  grief. 

'"Time's  clouds  roll  back,  and  memory's  light 
Bursts  suddenly  upon  my  sight ; 
For  thoughts,  which  words  could  never  tell, 
Find  utterance  in  that  funeral  bell. 
My  heart,  this  eve,  seemed  full  of  feeling, 
Yet  nothing  clear  to  me  revealing  ; 
Sounding  in  breathings  undefined 
jEolian  music  to  my  mind  : 

Then  strikes  that  bell,  and  all  subsides 
Into  a  harmony,  which  glides 
As  sweet  and  solemn  as  the  dream 
Of  a  remembered  funeral  hymn. 

This  scene  seemed  like  the  magic  glass, 
Which  bore  upon  its  clouded  face 
Strange  shadows  that  deceived  the  eye 
With  forms  defined  uncertainly ; 
That  Bell  is  old  Agrippa's  wand, 
Which  parts  the  clouds  on  either  hand, 
And  shows  the  pictured  forms  of  doom 
Momently  brightening  through  the  gloom  : 


Yes — shows  a  scene  of  bygone  years — 

Opens  a  fount  of  sealecl-up  tears — 
And  wakens  memory's  pensive  thought 
To  visions  sleeping — not  forgot. 
It  brings  me  back  a  summer's  day, 
Shedding  like  this  its  parting  ray, 
With  skies  as  shining  and  serene, 
And  hills  as  blue,  and  groves  as  green. 

"Ah,  well  I  recollect  that  hour, 

When  I  sat,  gazing,  just  as  now, 
Toward  that  ivy-mantled  tower 

Among  these  flowers  which  wave  below  ! 
No — not  these  flowers — they're  long  since  dead, 

And  flowers  have  budded,  bloomed,  and  gone, 
Since  those  were  plucked  which  gird  the  head 

Laid  underneath  yon  churchyard  stone  ! 
I  stooped  to  pluck  a  rose  that  grew 

Beside  this  window,  waving  then  ; 
But  back  my  little  hand  withdrew, 

From  some  reproof  of  inward  pain  ; 
For  she  who  loved  it  was  not  there 

To  check  me  with  her  dove-like  eye, 
And  something  bid  my  heart  forbear 

Her  favourite  rosebud  to  destroy. 
Was  it  that  bell — that  funeral  bell, 

Sullenly  sounding  on  the  wind? 
Was  it  that  melancholy  knell 

Which  first  to  sorrow  woke  my  mind  ? 


I  looked  upon  my  mourning  dress 

Till  my  heart  beat  with  childish  fear, 
And — frightened  at  my  loneliness — 

I  watched,  some  well-known  sound  to  hear. 
But  all  without  lay  silent  in 

The  sunny  hush  of  afternoon, 
And  only  muffled  steps  within 

Passed  slowly  and  sedately  on. 
I  well  can  recollect  the  awe 

With  which  I  hastened  to  depart ; 

And,  as  I  ran,  the  instinctive  start 
With  which  my  mother's  form  I  saw, 
Arrayed  in  black,  with  pallid  face, 

And  cheeks  and  'kerchief  wet  with  tears, 
As  down  she  stooped  to  kiss  my  face 

And  quiet  my  uncertain  fears. 

'  "  She  led  me,  in  her  mourning  hood, 

Through  voiceless  galleries,  to  a  room, 
'Neath  whose  black  hangings  crowded  stood, 
With  downcast  eyes  and  brows  of  gloom, 
My  known  relations  ;  while — with  head 
Declining  o'er  my  sister's  bed — 
My  father's  stern  eye  dropt  a  tear 
Upon  the  coffin  resting  there. 
My  mother  lifted  me  to  see 
What  might  within  that  coffin  be  ; 
And,  to  this  moment,  I  can  feel 
The  voiceless  gasp — the  sickening  chill — 
With  which  I  hid  my  whitened  face 
In  the  dear  folds  of  her  embrace  ; 


For  hardly  dared  I  turn  my  head 
Lest  its  wet  eyes  should  view  that  bed. 

'  But,  Harriet,'  said  my  mother  mild, 
'  Look  at  your  sister  and  my  child 
One  moment,  ere  her  form  be  hid 
For  ever  'neath  its  coffin  lid !' 

I  heard  the  appeal,  and  answered  too ; 
For  down  I  bent  to  bid  adieu. 
But,  as  I  looked,  forgot  affright 
In  mild  and  magical  delight. 

'"There  lay  she  then,  as  now  she  lies — 

For  not  a  limb  has  moved  since  then — 
In  dreamless  slumber  closed,  those  eyes 

That  never  more  might  wake  again. 
She  lay,  as  I  had  seen  her  lie 

On  many  a  happy  night  before, 
When  I  was  humbly  kneeling  by — 

Whom  she  was  teaching  to  adore : 
Oh,  just  as  when  by  her  I  prayed, 

And  she  to  heaven  sent  up  my  prayer, 
She  lay  with  flowers  about  her  head — 

Though  formal  grave-clothes  hid  her  hair  ! 
Still  did  her  lips  the  smile  retain 

Which  parted  them  when  hope  was  high, 
Still  seemed  her  brow  as  smoothed  from  pain 

As  when  all  thought  she  could  not  die. 
And,  though  her  bed  looked  cramped  and  strange, 

Her  too  bright  cheek  all  faded  now, 
My  young  eyes  scarcely  saw  a  change 


From  hours  when  moonlight  paled  her  brow. 
And  yet  I  felt — and  scarce  could  speak —  , 

A  chilly  face,  a  faltering  breath, 
When  my  hand  touched  the  marble  cheek 

Which  lay  so  passively  beneath. 
In  fright  I  gasped,  '  Speak,  Caroline  !' 

And  bade  my  sister  to  arise  ; 
But  answered  not  her  voice  to  mine, 

Nor  ope'd  her  sleeping  eyes. 
I  turned  toward  my  mother  then 

And  prayed  on  her  to  call ; 
But,  though  she  strove  to  hide  her  pain, 

It  forced  her  tears  to  fall. 
She  pressed  me  to  her  aching  breast 

As  if  her  heart  would  break, 
And  bent  in  silence  o'er  the  rest 

Of  one  she  could  not  wake  : 
The  rest  of  one,  whose  vanished  years 

Her  soul  had  watched  in  vain  ; 
The  end  of  mother's  hopes  and  fears, 

And  happiness  and  pain. 

'"They  came — they  pressed  the  coffin  lid 

Above  my  Caroline, 
And  then,  I  felt,  for  ever  hid 

My  sister's  face  from  mine  ! 
There  was  one  moment's  wildered  start — 

One  pang  remembered  well — 
When  first  from  my  unhardened  heart 

The  tears  of  anguish  fell : 


That  swell  of  thought  which  seemed  to  fill 

The  bursting  heart,  the  gushing  eye, 
While  fades  all  present  good  or  ill 

Before  the  shades  of  things  gone  by. 
All  else  seems  blank — the  mourning  march, 

The  proud  parade  of  woe, 
The  passage  'neath  the  churchyard  arch, 

The  crowd  that  met  the  show. 
My  place  or  thoughts  amid  the  train 
I  strive  to  recollect,  in  vain — 

I  could  not  think  or  see : 
I  cared  not  whither  I  was  borne  : 
And  only  felt  that  death  had  torn 

My  Caroline  from  me. 

4 "  Slowly  and  sadly,  o'er  her  grave, 
The  organ  peals  its  passing  stave, 
And,  to  its  last  dark  dwelling-place, 

The  corpse  attending  mourners  bear, 
While,  o'er  it  bending,  many  a  face 

'Mongst  young  companions  shows  a  tear. 
I  think  I  glanced  toward  the  crowd 

That  stood  in  musing  silence  by, 
And  even  now  I  hear  the  sound 

Of  some  one's  voice  amongst  them  cry — 
'  I  am  the  Resurrection  and  the  Life — 

He  who  believes  in  me  shall  never  die !' 

' "Long  years  have  never  worn  away 
The  unnatural  strangeness  of  that  day, 
When  I  beheld — upon  the  plate 
Of  grim  death's  mockery  of  state — 


That  well-known  word,  that  long-loved  name, 
Now  but  remembered  like  the  dream 
Of  half -forgotten  hymns  divine, 
My  sister's  name — my  Caroline  ! 

Down,  down,  they  lowered  her,  sad  and  slow, 
Into  her  narrow  house  below  : 
And  deep,  indeed,  appeared  to  be 
That  one  glimpse  of  eternity, 
Where,  cut  from  life,  corruption  lay, 
Where  beauty  soon  should  turn  to  clay  ! 
Though  scarcely  conscious,  hotly  fell 
The  drops  that  spoke  my  last  farewell ; 
And  wild  my  sob,  when  hollow  rung 
The  first  cold  clod  above  her  flung, 
When  glitter  was  to  turn  to  rust, 
'  Ashes  to  ashes,  dust  to  dust !' 

'"How  bitter  seemed  that  moment  when, 

Earth's  ceremonies  o'er, 
We  from  the  filled  grave  turned  again 

To  leave  her  evermore  ; 
And,  when  emerging  from  the  cold 

Of  damp,  sepulchral  air, 
As  I  turned,  listless  to  behold 

The  evening  fresh  and  fair, 
How  sadly  seemed  to  smile  the  face 

Of  the  descending  sun  ! 
How  seemed  as  if  his  latest  race 

Were  with  that  evening  run  ! 
There  sank  his  orb  behind  the  grove 


Of  my  ancestral  home, 
With  heaven's  unbounded  vault  above 

To  canopy  his  tomb. 
Yet  lingering  sadly  and  serene, 

As  for  his  last  farewell, 
To  shine  upon  those  wild  woods  green 

O'er  which  he'd  loved  to  dwell. 

'"I  lost  him,  and  the  silent  room, 

Where  soon  at  rest  I  lay, 
Began  to  darken,  'neath  the  gloom 

Of  twilight's  dull  decay  ; 
So,  sobbing  as  my  heart  would  break, 

And  blind  with  gushing  eyes, 
Hours  seemed  Avhole  nights  to  me  awake, 

And  day  as  'twould  not  rise. 
I  almost  prayed  that  I  might  die — 

But  then  the  thought  would  come 
That,  if  I  did,  my  corpse  must  lie 

In  yonder  dismal  tomb  ; 
Until,  methought,  I  saw  its  stone, 

By  moonshine  glistening  clear, 
While  Caroline's  bright  form  alone 

Kept  silent  watching  there  : 
All  white  with  angel's  wings  she  seemed, 

And  indistinct  to  see ; 
But  when  the  unclouded  moonlight  beamed 

I  saw  her  beckon  me, 
And  fade,  thus  beckoning,  while  the  wind 

Around  that  midnight  wall, 


To  me — now  lingering  years  behind — 
Seemed  then  my  sister's  call ! 

'  "And  thus  it  brought  me  back  the  hours 

When  we,  at  rest  together, 
Used  to  lie  listening  to  the  showers 

Of  wild  December  weather ; 
Which,  when,  as  oft,  they  woke  in  her 

The  chords  of  inward  thought, 
Would  fill  with  pictures  that  wild  air, 

From  far-off  memories  brought ; 
So,  while  I  lay,  I  heard  again 

Her  silver-sounding  tongue, 
Rehearsing  some  remembered  strain 

Of  old  times  long  agone  ! 
And,  flashed  across  my  spirit's  sight, 

What  she  had  often  told  me — 
When,  laid  awake  on  Christmas  night, 

Her  sheltering  arms  would  fold  me — 
About  that  midnight-seeming  day, 

Whose  gloom  o'er  Calvary  thrown, 
Showed  trembling  Nature's  deep  dismay 

At  what  her  sons  had  done  : 
When  sacred  Salem's  murky  air 

Was  riven  with  the  cry, 
Which  told  the  world  how  mortals  dare 

The  Immortal  crucify ; 
When  those  who,  sorrowing,  sat  afar, 

With  aching  heart  and  eye, 
Beheld  their  great  Redeemer  there, 

'Mid  sneers  and  scoffings  die  ; 



When  all  His  earthly  vigour  fled, 
When  thirsty  faintness  bowed  His  head, 
When  His  pale  limbs  were  moistened  o'er 
With  deathly  dews  and  dripping  gore, 
When  quivered  all  His  worn-out  frame, 
As  Death,  triumphant,  quenched  life's  flame, 
When  upward  gazed  His  glazing  eyes 
To  those  tremendous-seeming  skies, 
When  burst  His  cry  of  agony — 
'  My  God  ! — my  God  ! — hast  Thou  forsaken  me  !' 

My  youthful  feelings  startled  then, 
As  if  the  temple,  rent  in  twain, 
Horribly  pealing  on  my  ear 
With  its  deep  thunder  note  of  fear, 
Wrapping  the  world  in  general  gloom, 
As  if  her  God's  were  Nature's  tomb ; 
While  sheeted  ghosts  before  my  gaze 
Passed,  flitting  'mid  the  dreary  maze, 
As  if  rejoicing  at  the  day 
When  death — their  king — o'er  Heaven  had  sway. 

In  glistening  charnel  damps  arrayed, 
They  seemed  to  gibber  round  my  head, 
Through  night's  drear  void  directing  me 
Toward  still  and  solemn  Calvary, 
Where  gleamed  that  cross  with  steady  shine 
Around  the  thorn-crowned  head  divine — 
A  flaming  cross — a  beacon  light 
To  this  world's  universal  night ! 
It  seemed  to  shine  with  such  a  glow, 
And  through  my  spirit  piercing  so, 

VOL.  I.  Q 


That,  pantingly,  I  strove  to  cry 
For  her,  whom  I  thought  slumbered  by, 
And  hide  me  from  that  awful  shine 
In  the  embrace  of  Caroline  ! 

I  wakened  in  the  attempt — 'twas  day  ; 
The  troubled  dream  had  fled  away ; 
'Twas  day — and  I,  alone,  was  laid 
In  that  great  room  and  stately  bed  ; 
No  Caroline  beside  me  !  Wide 
And  unrelenting  swept  the  tide 
Of  death  'twixt  her  and  me  !'' 

There  paused 
Sweet  Harriet's  voice,  for  such  thoughts  caused — ' 

This  poem  springs  from  the  deepest  feelings, 
and  from  sorrows  the  most  poignant.  The 
respective  images,  tinctured  with  grief  and 
despondency,  pass  before  us  with  weird  and 
vivid  reality;  and  many  of  the  passages  are 
imbued  with  great  tenderness,  beauty,  and 
pathos.  The  painful,  and,  perhaps,  too  morbid 
intensity  of  some  of  the  pictures,  whether  of 
dreams  or  realities,  is  painted  here  with  the  skill 
of  no  common  artist,  whatever  youthful  defects 
may  be  observed  in  the  composition.  The  poem 
is  one  more  notable  for  tender  sweetness  than 
any  other  that  remains  from  Branwell ;  but  it 


lacks  in  places  the  vigour  and  power  of  his 
later  compositions,  and  is,  in  several  parts,  of 
unequal   merit.     In   the   earlier  portion   of    it, 
where  he  assumes  the  iambic  measure,  it  is  not 
difficult  to  perceive  the  influence  of  Byron  on 
his  diction.     In  this  work  Branwell  again  recurs 
to  the  time  when  tears  of  anguish  flowed  from 
his  yet  '  unhardened  heart,'  whose  present  woes 
are  forgotten  in  the  swelling  thoughts  of '  things 
gone   by.'     We  recognize  Avith   what  pathetic 
feeling  he  paints    in  Caroline  all  the   qualities 
of  instructress,  guardian,  and  friend,  which   had 
characterized  his  sister  Maria.     Long  afterwards 
Charlotte  Bronte,  inspired  by  similar  feelings, 
devoted  the  first  chapters  of '  Jane  Eyre  '  to  a 
delineation,  in  the  character  of  Helen  Burns,  of 
the  disposition  of  her  dead  sister,  whose  death, 
a  few  days  after  her  return  from  Cowan  Bridge, 
she  could  scarcely  ever  either  forget  or  forgive. 




Charlotte's  first  Offer  of  Marriage — Her  Remarks  concern- 
ing it— A  second  Offer  Declined — Anne  a  Governess 
— She  Moralizes  upon  it — Charlotte  obtains  a  Situa- 
tion— Unsuited  to  Her — She  Leaves  it — Bramvell 
takes  Pleasure  in  Scenery — He  Visits  Liverpool  with 
his  Friends — Charlotte  goes  to  Easton — Curates  at 
Haworth — Their  Visits  to  the  Parsonage — Public 
Meetings  on  Church  Rates — Charlotte's  Attempt  at  a 
Richardsonian  Novel — She  sends  the  Commencement 
of  it  to  Wordsworth  for  his  Opinion — Branwell  re- 
ceives an  Appointment  as  Private  Tutor. 

AFTER  the  return  of  Charlotte  and  Anne  from 
Dewsbury  Moor,  whither  Miss  Wooler  had  re- 
moved her  school,  the  three  sisters  were  at 
home  together  for  some  months,  and,  in  this 
happy,  unrestrained  intercourse,  with  their 
literary  relaxations  and  their  plans  for  the 
future,  Charlotte's  mind  expanded,  and  her 


•strength  returned.  There  was  Branwell,  too, 
to  think  about ;  his  venture  at  Bradford  and  his 
progress  with  his  portraits.  Then  they  would 
have  to  go  and  see  the  likeness  of  Mr.  Morgan  ; 
and,  on  such  occasions,  Branwell  would  have 
much  to  say  of  art  and  literature,  and,  acquaint- 
ances. But  Branwell  was  usually  at  Haworth 
on  Sundays,  and  then  he  would  hear  of  Char- 
lotte's visits  to  her  friends,  and  her  adventures 
on  these  occasions.  It  was  shortly  before  the 
date  of  Branwell's  return  from  Bradford,  in  the 
spring  of  1839,  that  Charlotte  received  her  first 
offer  of  marriage.  A  young  clergyman,  who 
had,  as  Mrs.  Gaskell  thought,  some  resem- 
blance to  the  St.  John  in  the  last  volume  of 
'  Jane  Eyre,'  had  evidently  been  attracted  by 
Charlotte  Bronte  ;  but  matrimony  does  not  seem, 
at  the  time,  to  have  seriously  entered  into  her 
thoughts.  In  some  respects  the  proposal  might 
have  had  strong  temptations  for  her,  and  she 
thought  how  happy  her  married  life  might  be. 
However,  it  was  not  the  way  with  Charlotte 
Bronte  to  take  the  path  of  smoothness  and  com- 
fort, and  leave  the  thorny  one  untrod  ;  and  she 
asked  herself  if  she  loved  the  clergyman  in 


question  as  much  as  a  woman  should  love  her 
husband,  and  whether  she  was  the  one  best 
qualified  to  make  him  happy.  '  Alas !'  she  sa ysr 
'  my  conscience  answered  "  No  "  to  both  these 
questions.'  She  knew  very  well  that  she  had  a 
'  kindly  leaning  '  towards  him,  but  this  was  not 
enough  for  her,  for  it  was  impossible  that  she 
could  ever  feel  for  him  such  an  intense  attach- 
ment as  would  make  her  sacrifice  her  life  for 
him.  Short  of  such  a  devotion  awakened  in 
herself,  she  would  never  marry  anyone.  Her 
comment  is  characteristic  :  '  Ten  to  one  I  shall 
never  have  the  chance  again ;  but  Jiimporte.' 

Charlotte  Bronte  felt  that  there  was  a  want 
of  sympathy  between  the  young  clergyman  and 
herself,  for  he  was  a  '  grave,  quiet  young  man  ;* 
and  she  knew  that  he  would  be  startled,  and 
would  think  her  a  wild,  romantic  enthusiast,  when 
she  showed  her  character,  and  laughed,  and  sa- 
tirized, and  said  whatever  came  into  her  head. 
Nor  was  her  next  offer  any  more  to  her  taste  j 
for,  within  a  few  months,  a  neighbouring  curate,, 
a  young  Irishman,  fresh  from  the  Dublin  Uni- 
versity, made  her  a  proposal.  The  circumstance 
amused  Charlotte,  for  it  was,  on  his  part,  a  case- 


of  love  at  first  sight.  He  came  with  his  vicar 
to  be  introduced  to  the  family,  and  was  speedily 
struck  with  Mr.  Bronte's  daughter.  Charlotte 
was  never  troubled  at  home  with  the  mauvaise 
honte  that  troubled  her  abroad  ;  and  so  she  talk- 
ed and  jested  with  the  clergyman,  and  was 
much  amused  at  the  originality  of  his  character. 
A  pleasant  afternoon  was  spent,  for  he  made 
himself  at  home,  after  the  fashion  of  his  coun- 
trymen, and  was  witty,  lively,  ardent,  and 
clever ;  but,  withal,  wanting  in  the  dignity  and 
discretion  of  an  Englishman.  As  the  evening 
dreAv  on,  Charlotte  was  not  much  pleased  with 
the  spice  of  Hibernian  flattery  with  which  he 
began  to  season  his  discourse,  and,  as  she 
expresses  it,  she  '  cooled  a  little.'  The  vicar  and 
his  curate  went  away ;  but  what  was  Charlotte's 
astonishment  to  receive  a  letter  next  morning 
from  the  latter  containing  a  proposal  of  mar- 
riage, and  filled  with  ardent  expressions  of 
devotion !  '  I  hope  you  are  laughing  heartily,' 
she  says  to  her  fiiend.  '  This  is  not  like  one  of 
my  adventures,  is  it  ?  It  more  nearly  resembles 
Martha's.  I  am  certainly  doomed  to  be  an  old 
maid.  Never  mind.  I  have  made  up  my  mind 


to  that  fate  ever  since  I  was  twelve  years  old. 
Well!  thought  I,  I  have  heard  of  love  at  first 
sight,  but  this  beats  all  !  1  leave  you  to  guess 
what  my  answer  would  be,  convinced  that 
you  will  not  do  me  the  injustice  of  guessing 

Although  the  married  state  does  not  appear, 
from  Charlotte's  letters  at  this  time,  to  have 
had  many  attractions  for  her,  we  know,  from 
those  she  wrote  later,  and,  perhaps,  more 
than  all  from  the  concluding  chapters  of  '  Jane 
Eyre,'  that  she  could  enter  into  the  joys  and 
sacrifices  of  domestic  life,  that  she  had  a  correct 
view  of  the  affections,  and  knew  how  to  appre- 
ciate conjugal  love  at  its  true  value.  But,  in 
the  present  instances — although,  at  a  later 
period  of  her  life,  when  she  was  on  the  Contin- 
ent, she  is  believed  to  have  felt  the  full  force  of 
that  '  passion  of  the  heart '  which  those  about 
whom  she  wrote  had  failed  to  evoke — she  de- 
clined to  sever  herself  from  the  contented 
circumstances  that  surrounded  her,  and  in 
which  she  was  mistress,  for  a  condition  of 
doubtful  peace  and  certain  obedience.  Char- 
lotte's decision  was  not  discordant  with  the 



feelings  of  .her  family ;  for,  as  she  had  determined 
to  continue  at  home,  their  plans  for  the  future 
would  not  be  disconcerted. 

Anne  was  now  resolved  on  making  a  trial  of 
the  life  of  a  governess  for  herself,  she  having 
completed  her  education,  and  being  wishful  to 
exert  herself  as  her  sisters  had  done.  Inquiries 
were  made,  and  at  length  a  situation  was  ob- 
tained. Anne  continued  in  this  kind  of  employ- 
ment during  the  next  six  years,  and  it  was  her 
experience  that  suggested  to  her  the  subject  of 
her  first  novel,  'Agnes  Grey.'  If  we  may  sup- 
pose that  she  has  recounted  her  own  experience 
at  this  time,  where  her  heroine  describes  the 
circumstances  of  her  preparation  and  departure 
for  her  first  situation,  it  would  appear  that  she 
had  some  difficulty  in  convincing  her  friends  of 
the  wisdom  of  her  purpose.  Agnes  Grey  says, 
after  she  has  made  the  suggestion  to  her  family  : 

'  I  was  silenced  for  that  day,  and  for  many 
succeeding  ones;  but  still  I  did  not  wholly 
relinquish  my  darling  scheme.  Mary  got  her 
drawing  materials,  and  steadily  set  to  work. 
I  got  mine  too  ;  but,  while  I  drew,  I  thought 
of  other  things.  How  delightful  it  would  be 


to  be  a  governess  !  To  go  out  into  the  world  ; 
to  enter  upon  a  new  life ;  to  act  for  myself ; 
to  exercise  my  unused  faculties ;  to  try  my 
unknown  powers ;  to  earn  my  own  mainten- 
ance, and  something  to  comfort  and  help  my 
father,  mother,  and  sister,  besides  exonerating 
them  from  the  provision  of  my  food  and  cloth- 
ing ;  to  show  papa  what  his  little  Agnes  could 
do ;  to  convince  mamma  and  Mary  that  I  was 
not  quite  the  helpless,  thoughtless  being  they 
supposed.  And  then,  how  charming  to  be  en- 
trusted with  the  care  and  education  of  children ! 
AVhatever  others  said,  I  felt  I  was  fully  com- 
petent to  the  task :  the  clear  remembrance 
of  my  own  thoughts  in  early  childhood  would 
be  a  surer  guide  than  the  instructions  of  the 
most  mature  adviser.  I  had  but  to  turn  from 
my  little  pupils  to  myself  at  their  age,  and  I 
should  know  at  once  how  to  win  their  con- 
fidence and  affections ;  how  to  waken  the  con- 
trition of  the  erring;  how  to  embolden  the 
timid  arid  console  the  afflicted;  how  to  make 
virtue  practicable,  instruction  desirable,  and 
religion  lively  and  comprehensible.'1 
1  '  Agues  Grey,'  chap.  i. 


Anne  Bronte  was  of  a  milder  and  more  cheer- 
ful temperament  than  her  sisters ;  she  had  not 
the  fire,  the  morbid  feeling,  or  the  mental  force 
that  characterized  Charlotte,  yet  she  had  more 
of  the  initiatory  faculty  than  she  had  hitherto 
received  credit  for.  But  her  gentle  nature,  her 
confiding  piety,  her  more  equable  temper,  en- 
abled her  to  succeed  better  in  the  circum- 
stances she  had  chosen.  She  had  her  troubles, 
her  timidity,  and  her  diffidence  to  contend  with, 
but  she  made  life  supportable  and  even  happy. 
'  Agnes  Grey '  thus  speaks  of  her  departure, 
which  we  cannot  doubt  is  the  experience  of 
Anne  Bronte : 

'  Some  weeks  more  were  yet  to  be  devoted 
to  preparation.  How  long,  how  tedious  those 
weeks  appeared  to  me  !  Yet  they  were  happy 
ones  in  the  main,  full  of  bright  hopes  and  ardent 
expectations.  With  what  peculiar  pleasure  I 
assisted  at  the  making  of  my  new  clothes,  and, 
subsequently,  the  packing  of  my  trunks  !  But 
there  was  a  feeling  of  bitterness  mingling  with 
the  latter  occupation  too ;  and  when  it  was 
done — when  all  was  ready  for  my  departure 
on  the  morrow,  and  the  last  night  at  home 


approached — a  sudden  anguish  seemed  to  swell 
my  heart.  My  dear  friends  looked  sad,  and 
spoke  so  very  kindly,  that  I  could  scarcely  keep 
my  heart  from  overflowing ;  but  I  still  affected 
to  be  gay.  I  had  taken  my  last  ramble  with 
Mary  on  the  moors,  my  last  walk  in  the  gar- 
den and  round  the  house  ...  I  had  played 
my  last  tune  on  the  old  piano,  and  sung  my 
last  song  to  papa,  not  the  last,  I  hoped,  but 
the  last  for  what  appeared  to  me  a  very  long 

Charlotte  and  Emily  made  themselves  busy 
in  assisting  Anne  with  her  preparations  for  de- 
parture, and  they  were  very  sad  and  apprehen- 
sive when  she  left  them  on  Monday,  April  15th, 
1839.  She  went  alone,  at  her  own  wish,  think- 
ing she  could  manage  better  if  left  to  her  own 
resources,  and  when  her  failings  were  unwit- 
nessed by  those  whose  hopes  she  wished  to 
sustain.  However,  she  wrote,  expressing  satis- 
faction with  the  place  she  had  secured,  for  the 
lady  of  the  house  was  very  kind.  She  had  two 
of  the  eldest  girls  under  her  charge,  the  children 

1  '  Agnes  Grey,'  chap.  L 


being  confined  to  the  nursery,  with  which  she 
had  no  concern. 

Charlotte,  although  remarking  in  a  letter  to 
her  friend  on  the  cleverness  and  sensibility  with 
which  Anne  could  express  herself  in  epistolary 
correspondence,  had  some  fear  that,  such  was 
the  natural  diffidence  of  her  manner,  her  mis- 
tress would  sometimes  believe  her  to  have  an 
impediment  in  her  speech. 

Charlotte's  eagerness  to  obtain  a  situation 
was  now  so  great  that  she  does  not  seem  to 
have  considered  well  the  step  she  was  about 
to  take,  and  she  obtained  one  that  was  not 
satisfactory  to  her.  It  was  in  the  family  of  a 
wealthy  Yorkshire  manufacturer ;  and  we  may 
well  believe  that  the  stylish  surroundings  of 
her  employers  differed  materially  from  those 
of  the  family  at  Haworth.  Here  a  large 
quantity  of  miscellaneous  work  was  thrown 
on  Charlotte,  which  displeased  her  and  de- 
stroyed her  comfort.  In  a  letter  to  Emily, 
she  says  she  -is  '  overwhelmed  with  oceans  of 
needlework;  yards  of  cambric  to  hem,  muslin 
night-caps  to  make,  etc.'  She  found  the  out- 
side attractions  of  the  house  beautiful  in  '  plea- 


sant  woods,  white  paths,  green  lawns,  and  blue, 
sunshiny  sky ;'  but  these  surroundings  did  not 
compensate  for  the  humiliations  which  her  situa- 
tion imposed  upon  her,  and  her  mistress  and 
she  did  not  like  each  other;  so  Charlotte  did 
not  return  to  the  place  after  the  July  holidays 
of  1839. 

Branwell  was  as  yet  unemployed,  arid  he 
sought,  and  took  much  pleasure  in  the  scenery, 
the  events  and  circumstances  of  the  hills  and 
valleys  of  the  West-Riding  of  Yorkshire,  and  was 
frequently  from  home.  He  went  about  the 
country,  associating  with  the  people,  and  revell- 
ing in  their  ready  wit,  which  enabled  him  after- 
wards, by  such  observations  and  experience,  to 
give  vivid  pictures  of  life  and  character.  At  the 
time  of  the  Haworth  '  Rushbearing,'  of  July, 
1839,  he  visited  Liverpool  with  one  or  two 
friends,  and,  while  there,  in  compliance  with  an 
injunction  of  his  father,  made  a  stenographic 
report,  at  St.  Jude's  church,  of  a  sermon  by  the 
Rev.  H.  McNeile,  the  well-known  evangelical 
preacher.  Here,  a  sudden  attack  of  Tic  com- 
pelled him  to  resort  to  opium,  in  some  form,  as 
an  anodyne,  whose  soothing  effect  in  pain  he 


bad  previously  known.  Subsequently,  passing 
a  music  shop,  in  one  of  their  rambles  through 
the  town,  Bran  well's  attention  was  arrested  by 
a  copy  of  the  oratorio  of  '  Samson,'  by  Handel, 
displayed  in  the  window,  the  performance  of 
which  had  always  excited  him  to  the  highest 
degree,  and  he  eagerly  besought  his  friend  to 
purchase  it,  as  well  as  some  Mass,  and  various 
oratorio  music,  which  was  done. 

On  their  return  from  Liverpool,  Branwell, 
being  under  some  obligation  to  his  friend, 
proffered  to  paint  his  portrait,  to  which  Mr. 

M agreed.     A   sitting   once   a   week   was 

decided  upon,  to  be  in  the  room  at  the  parsonage 
where  Branwell  studied  and  painted.  On  his 

visits,   Mr.  M invariably  noticed  a  row  of 

potatoes,  placed  on  the  uppermost  rib  of  the 
range  to  roast,  Branwell  being  very  fond  of 
them  done  in  this  way,  even  as  Jane  Eyre  was 
in  the  novel.  '  That  night,'  she  says,  '  on  going 
to  bed,  I  forgot  to  prepare,  in  imagination,  the 

Barmecide  supper  of  hot  roast  potatoes 

with  which  I  was  wont   to   amuse   my  inward 

cravings.'     When   Mr.  M paid  his  weekly 

visits  to  the  parsonage  he  always  heard  some 


one  speaking  aloud  in  the  room  adjoining  Bran- 
well's  studio ;  and,  at  last,  his  curiosity  being 
excited,  he  inquired  whom  it  was.  Branwell 
answered  that  it  was  his  father  committing  his 
Sunday's  sermon  to  memory.  When  the  portrait 

was  ready  for  the  finishing  touches,  Mr.  M 

discovered  that  Branwell  had  painted  the  names 
of  Johanii  Sebastian  Bach,  Mozart,  Haydn,  and 
Handel  at  each  corner  of  the  canvas  respectively. 
He  remonstrated,  but  Branwell  was  firm,  main- 
taining that,  as  his  friend  was  an  accomplished 
musician,  and  could  perform  the  most  elaborate 
and  difficult  compositions  of  these  immortal  men, 
with  expression  and  ease,  he  was,  in  every  way, 
worthy  of  being  associated  with  them  in  the 

manner    he    designed.     Mr.    M complied. 

When  the  portrait  was  finished,  Branwell  pressed 
his  friend  to  take  a  glass  of  wine;  and,  while 
the  two  were  chatting  over  the  affair,  Mr.  Bronte 
and  his  daughters  entered  the  room  to  view 
BranweH's  work  on  its  completion.  They  were 
pleased  with  it,  and  praised  it  as  a  truthful  like- 
ness and  an  excellent  picture. 

We  may  well  imagine  the  enthusiasm  with 
Avhich  Branwell  would  recount  his  experience  of 


Liverpool.  How  much  he  would  have  to  tell 
of  the  wonders  of  the  Mersey,  the  great  ships 
that  rode  upon  its  surface,  and  its  commerce  with 
the  new  world,  out  across  the  ocean !  His  visit 
seems  to  have  originated  a  proposal  that  the 
family  should  spend  a  week  or  a  fortnight  at 
that  seaport,  but,  almost  at  the  same  moment, 
Charlotte's  friend  suggested  to  her  that  they 
should  visit  Cleethorpes  together,  a  suggestion 
that  pleased  her  very  much. 

'  The  idea  of  seeing  the  sea,'  she  says,  'of  being 
near  it — watching  its  changes  by  sunrise,  sunset, 
moonlight,  and  noon-day — in  calm,  perhaps  in 
storm — fills  and  satisfies  my  mind.  I  shall  be 
discontented  at  nothing.  And  then  I  am  not 
to  be  with  a  set  of  people  with  whom  I  have 
nothing  in  common — who  would  be  nuisances 
and  bores.' 

The  visit  of  Charlotte  to  the  sea-side  seems  to 
have  been  put  off  again  and  again,  by  often- 
recurring  obstacles.  The  irresolution  of  her 
family  in  regard  to  the  Liverpool  project,  and 
the  manifest  unwillingness  that  she  should  leave 
home  on  a  visit  anywhere  else,  put  off,  from  time 
to  time,  the  pleasure  she  had  anticipated  for  her- 

YOL.  I.  K 


self ;  but  at  last  she  decided  to  go.  Her  box  was 
packed  and  everything  prepared,  but  no  con- 
veyance could  be  procured.  Mr.  Bronte  objected 
to  her  going  by  coach,  and  walking  part  of  the 
way  to  meet  her  friend,  and  her  aunt  exclaimed 
against  'the  weather,  and  the  roads,  and  the 
four  winds  of  heaven,'  so  Charlotte  almost  gave 
up  hope.  She  told  her  friend  that  the  elders  of 
the  house  had  never  cordially  acquiesced  in  the 
measure,  and  that  opposition  was  growing  more 
open,  though  her  father  would  willingly  have 
indulged  her.  Even  he,  however,  wished  her 
to  remain  at  home.  Charlotte  was  '  provoked ' 
that  her  aunt  had  deferred  opposition  until 
arrangements  had  been  made.  In  the  end  '  E  ' 
was  asked  to  pay  a  visit  to  the  parsonage. 

Owing  to  the  circumstances  indicated,  Char- 
lotte's visit  to  the  sea-coast  was  put  off  until  the 
following  September,  when  an  opportunity  occurr- 
ed favourable  to  the  project,  which  does  not  seem 
to  have  been  entirely  abandoned ;  and  she  and 
her  friend  visited  Easton  where  they  spent  a 
fortnight.  Here  for  the  first  time  Charlotte 
beheld  the  sea. 

Afterwards  she  wrote,  'Have  you  forgotten 


the  sea  by  this  time,  E.?  Is  it  grown  dim 
in  your  mind  ?  Or  can  you  still  see  it,  dark, 
blue  and  green  and  foam-white,  and  hear  it 
roaring  roughly  when  the  wind  is  high,  or 
rushing  softly  when  it  is  calm?'  The  Liver- 
pool journey  appears  to  have  been  finally 

It  was  in  a  letter,  written  about  this  time  that 
Mrs.  Gaskell  found  the  first  mention  of  a 
succession  of  curates  who  henceforth  revolved 
round  Haworth  Parsonage.  Three  years  earlier 
Mr.  Bronte  had  sought  aid  from  the  '  Additional 
Curates'  Society,'  or  some  similar  institution, 
and  was  provided  at  once  with  assistance.  The 
increasing  duties  of  his  chapelry  had  rendered 
this  step  necessary.  It  would  seem  also  that  a 
curate  was  appointed  to  Stanbury,  while  another 
became  master  of  the  National  or  Grammar  School. 
These  gentlemen  were  not  infrequent  in  their 
visits  to  the  parsonage,  and  they  varied  the  life 
of  its  inmates,  sometimes  one  way  and  some- 
times another.  This  circumstance,  at  the  same 
time,  provided  Charlotte  Bronte  with  those  liv- 
ing studies  which  she  did  not  fail  afterwards  to 
remember  in  her  delineation  of  the  three  curates 



in  '  Shirley/  Emily,  on  the  other  hand,  invari- 
ably avoided  these  gentlemen. 

The  arrival  of  the  curates  at  Haworth  was 
the  occasion  of  increased  activity  in  the  affairs 
of  the  chapelry  ;  and,  the  church-rate  question 
being  uppermost  at  this  juncture,  the  new-comers 
entered  into  a  crusade  against  the  Dissenters 
who  had  refused  to  pay  church-rates.  Charlotte 
wrote  a  long  letter  in  which  she  spoke  of  a 
violent  public  meeting  held  at  Haworth  about 
the  affair,  and  of  two  sermons  against  dissent — 
one  by  Mr.  W.  a  '  noble,  eloquent,  high-church, 
apostolical-succession  discourse,  in  which  he 
banged  the  Dissenters  most  fearlessly  and 
unflinchingly;'  the  other  by  Mr.  C.,  a  'keener, 
cleverer,  bolder,  and  more  heart-stirring  har- 
angue,' than  Charlotte,  perhaps,  had  ever  heard 
from  the  Haworth  pulpit.  She,  however,  did 
not  entirely  agree  with  either  of  these  gentle- 
men, and  thought,  if  she  had  been  a  Dissenter, 
she  would  have  '  taken  the  first  opportunity  of 
kicking  or  of  horse- whipping  both.' 

In  the  winter  of  1839 — 40,  Charlotte  em- 
ployed her  leisure  in  the  composition  of  a  story 
which  she  had  commenced  on  a  scale  commen- 


eurate  with  one  of  Richardson's  novels  of  seven 
or  eight  volumes.  Mrs.  Gaskell  saw  some 
fragments  of  the  manuscript,  written  in  a  very 
small  hand :  but  she  was  less  solicitous  to  deci- 
pher it,  as  Charlotte  had  herself  condemned  it 
in  the  preface  to  '  The  Professor.'  Branwell,  to 
whom  she  submitted  it,  seems  to  have  under- 
stood, at  the  time,  that  in  its  florid  style  of 
composition  she  was  working  in  opposition  to 
her  genius,  and  he  told  her  she  was  making  a 
mistake.  It  appears  not  unlikely  that  Branwell 
was  himself  similarly  engaged  on  prose  writing 
when  he  gave  her  this  opinion.  A  few  months 
later,  however,  Charlotte  resolved  to  send  the 
commencement  of  her  tale  to  Wordsworth,  and 
that  an  unfavourable  judgment  was  the  result, 
for  which  she  was  not  altogether  unprepared, 
may  be  gathered  from  the  following  letter  she 
addressed  to  the  poet : — 

'  Authors  are  generally  very  tenacious  of  their 
productions,  but  I  am  not  so  much  attached  to 
this  but  that  I  can  give  it  up  without  much 
distress.  No  doubt  if  I  had  gone  on  I  should 
have  made  quite  a  Richardsonian  concern  of  it 
...  I  had  materials  in  my  head  for  half-a-dozen 


volumes  ....  Of  course  it  is  with  considerable 
regret  I  relinquish  any  scheme  so  charming  as 
the  one  I  have  sketched.  It  is  very  edifying 
and  profitable  to  create  a  world  out  of  your  own 
brains,  and  people  it  with  inhabitants  who  are 
so  many  Melchisedecs,  and  have  no  father  or 

mother  but  your  own  imagination I  am 

sorry  I  did  not  exist  fifty  or  sixty  years  ago, 
when  the  "Ladies'  Magazine  "was  flourishing 
like  a  green  bay-tree.  In  that  case,  I  make  110 
doubt,  my  aspirations  after  literary  fame  would 
have  met  with  due  encouragement,  and  I  should 
have  had  the  pleasure  of  introducing  Messrs. 
Percy  and  West  into  the  best  society,  and 
recording  all  their  sayings  and  doings  in  double- 
columned,  close-printed  pages  ...  I  recollect,, 
when  I  was  a  child,  getting  hold  of  some  anti- 
quated volumes,  reading  them  by  stealth  with 
the  most  exquisite  pleasure.  You  give  a  correct 
description  of  the  patient  Grisels  of  these  days. 
My  aunt  was  one  of  them  ;  and  to  this  day  she 
thinks  the  tales  of  the  "Ladies'  Magazine" 
infinitely  superior  to  any  trash  of  modern  litera- 
ture. So  do  I ;  for  I  read  them  in  childhood, 
and  childhood  has  a  very  strong  faculty  of 


admiration,  but  a  very  weak  one  of  criticism 
...  1  am  pleased  that  you  cannot  quite  decide 
whether  I  am  an  attorney's  clerk  or  a  novel- 
reading  dressmaker.  I  will  not  help  you  at 
all  in  the  discovery  .  .  .' 

In  the  midst  of  their  literary  endeavours,  their 
efforts  were  not  relaxed  to  obtain  new  places. 
Charlotte  was  obliged  by  circumstances  to  give 
up  her  subscriptions  to  the  Jews,  and  she  deter- 
mined to  force  herself  to  take  a  situation,  if  one 
could  be  found,  though  she  says,  '  I  hate  and 
abhor  the  very  thoughts  of  governess-ship.'  An 
alternative  which  the  sisters  talked  over  in  these 
holidays  was  the  opening  of  a  school  at  Haworth, 
for  which  an  enlargement  of  the  parsonage 
Avould  be  required. 

Branwell  was  more  successful  in  his  pursuit 
of  employment  than  Charlotte,  having  procured 
the  place  of  a  tutor ;  and  he  was  to  commence 
his  duties  with  the  new  year.  Charlotte  says 
of  this  event,  '  One  thing,  however,  will  make 
the  daily  routine  more  unvaried  than  ever. 
Branwell,  who  used  to  enliven  us,  is  to  leave 
us  in  a  few  days,  and  enter  the  situation  of  a 
private  tutor  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Ulverston. 


How  he  will  like  to  settle  remains  yet  to  be 
seen.  At  present  he  is  full  of  hope  and  resolu- 
tion. I,  who  know  his  variable  nature,  and  his 
strong  turn  for  active  life,  dare  not  be  too 

Branwell  seems  to  have  paid  a  farewell  visit 
to  the  '  Lodge  of  the  Three  Graces '  on  the 
Christmas  Day  of  this  year,  when  he  acted  as 
organist.  This  is  the  only  occasion  on  which 
he  is  recorded  as  having  attended  at  the  meet- 
ings of  the  Lodge  in  1839,  and  it  is  the  last  on 
which  his  name  appears  in  the  minute  book  of 
the  Haworth  masonic  body. 




The  District  of  Black  Comb — BranwelFs  Sonnet — Words- 
worth and  Hartley  Coleridge — Branwell's  Letter  to 
the  '  Old  Knave  of  Trumps ' — Its  Publication  by 
Miss  Robinson  in  her  'Emily  Bronte' — Branwell's 
familiar  Acquaintance  with  the  People  of  Haworth 
— He  could  Paint  their  Characters  with  Accuracy — 
His  Knowledge  of  the  Human  Passions — Emily's 

BRANWELL,  being  as  desirous  of  employment  as 
his  sisters,  had  sought  for,  and  obtained,  a  situa- 
tion as  tutor  in  the  family  of  Mr.  Postlethwaite, 
of  Broughtou-in-Furness.  He  entered  upon  his 
new  duties  ou  the  1st  of  January,  1840. 

Now  that  he  found  himself  resident  near  the 
English  lake  district,  consecrated  as  it  is  by 
so  many  poetic  memories,  and  dear  to  him  as  the 
home  of  Wordsworth,  Coleridge,  and  Southey 


lie  naturally  felt  an  intense  interest  in  all  that 
surrounded  him;  and,  when  he  was  not  en- 
gaged in  teaching  the  sons  of  his  employer,  he 
took  occasion  to  visit  such  places  as  had  any 
attraction  for  him.  On  one  of  his  pedestrian 
excursions,  he  had  stepped  into  a  wayside  inn, 
and  was  seated  musing  before  the  parlour  fire, 
when  a  young  gentleman  entered  the  room. 
Branwell  turned  round,  and  recognized  at  once 
a  friend  of  the  name  of  Ayrton,  whose  acquaint- 
ance he  had  formed  in  Leeds.  The  surprise 
and  delight  at  this  unexpected  meeting  was 
mutual ;  and  Bran  well's  friend,  who  was  driving 
about  the  country,  requested  his  company  for 
some  distance  on  the  journey,  for  the  purpose 
of  prolonging  the  interview,  and  of  continuing 
the  conversation  that  had  been  begun.  The 
young  tutor  drove  some  ten  miles  with  his 
friend,  utterly  regardless  of  the  long  return 
walk  to  Diversion. 

Branwell  delighted  in  the  writings  of  the 
'  Lake  Poets,'  and  was  much  influenced  by 
Southey's  prose  works.  He  read  the  'Life  of 
Nelson,'  and  was  himself  moved  to  write  a  poem 
illustrative  of  the  life  of  that  great  naval  hero. 


He  also  read  the  '  Colloquies  on  Society,'  and 
others  of  South ey's  works.  But  it  was  Words- 
worth who  at  this  moment,  was  the  object  of 
Branwell's  chief  admiration.  He  revelled  in 
that  poet's  fine  description  of  the  view  from 

the  top  of  Black  Comb,  and,  perhaps,  knew  the 


lines  written  by  his  '  deity  of  the  mind '  on 
a  stone  on  the  side  of  the  mountain,  and  pro- 
bably had  himself  looked  from  its  summit.  But 
Bran  well  certainly  knew  Black  Comb  from  afar. 
Five  miles  away  he  could  see  it ;  and  he  cele- 
brated it  in  the  following  sonnet : 


'  Far  off,  and  half  revealed,  'mid  shade  and  light, 

Black  Comb  half  smiles,  half  frowns  ;  his  mighty  form 
Scarce  bending  into  peace — more  formed  to  fight 
A  thousand  years  of  struggles  with  a  storm 
Than  bask  one  hour,  subdued  by  sunshine  warm, 
To  bright  and  breezeless  rest ;  yet  even  his  height 
Towers  not  o'er  this  world's  sympathies,  he  smiles — 
While  many  a  human  heart  to  pleasures'  wiles 
Can  bear  to  bend,  and  still  forget  to  rise — 
As  though  he,  huge  and  heath-clad,  on  our  sight, 
Again  rejoices  in  his  stormy  skies. 
Man  loses  vigour  in  unstable  joys. 
Thus  tempests  find  Black  Comb  invincible, 
"While  we  are  lost,  who  should  know  life  so  well !' 


It  was  doubtless  while  Branwell  was  living 
at  Ulverston  that  he  obtained  the  favourable 
opinion  of  Wordsworth  on  some  poems  which 
he  submitted  for  criticism.  Probably  he  found 
opportunity  to  visit  the  writer  whose  works  he 

'  loved  most  in  our  literature,'  and  it  would  be 


on  some  similar  excursion  that  he  obtained  an 
encouraging  expression  of  opinion  from  Hartley 
Coleridge.  The  author  of  '  The  Northern  Wor- 
thies'  was  not  unknown  to  the  circle  at  'The 
George,'  at  Bradford,  and  was  acquainted  with 
Branwell  Bronte  and  Leyland. 

The  master  of  the  'Lodge  of  the  Three 
Graces,'  at  Haworth,  did  not,  however,  long 
permit  Branwell  to  forget  his  old  acquaintance 
there  ;  for  this  worthy  soon  addressed  to  him  a 
communication  which  provoked  a  reply  that 
Branwell  dated  from  Broughton-in-Furness  on 
the  13th  of  the  March  following  his  arrival.  This 
imfortunate  response,  in  which  Branwell  ad- 
dressed the  masonic  sexton  of  Haworth,  with 
sarcastic  humour,  as  '  Old  Knave  of  Trumps,'  is 
the  one  which  Miss  Robinson  has  been  so  ill 
advised  as  to  publish  in  her  'Emily  Bronte;'  and 
which  has  done  not  a  little  to  draw  down  on  the 


head  of  Bran  well  the  full  and  unmitigated 
volume  of  Mr.  Swinburne's  vocabulary  of  abuse. 
And,  in  fact,  if  this  letter  could  be  taken  as  the 
proper  and  natural  expression  of  an  abject  pro- 
fligate, altogether  shameless  and  unredeemed, 
he  could  find  a  defender  neither  here  nor  else- 
where. But  there  are  good  reasons  for  hoping 
that  it  was  otherwise.  We  have  seen  that  Bran- 
well  had  been  led  to  join  the  rude  village  society 
of  Ha  worth,  where,  on  account  of  his  brilliance, 
and  of  his  position  as  the  incumbent's  son,  he 
was  not  a  little  looked  up  to.  It  was  natural, 
then,  that  he  should  be  led,  foolishly  enough,  to 
endeavour  to  stand  well  with  the  friends  he  had 
selected,  and  his  knowledge  of  character  was 
sufficiently  good  to  enable  him  to  know  what 
kind  of  letter  would  best  suit  the  tastes  and 
inclinations  of  many  of  his  companions  of  the 
'  Lodge  of  the  Three  Graces.'  He  assumed  in 
fact,  that  bravado  of  vice,  that  air  of  diablerie, 
which  was  thought  by  many  people,  in  those 
days,  and  is  so  yet  by  not  a  few,  to  be  the  best 
proof  of  manhood,  because  it  betokened  a  know- 
ledge of  the  world.  Yet,  at  the  end  of  the 
letter, — the  passage  is  not  given  by  Miss  Robin- 


son — Brairwell  appears  to  take  it  as  a  matter  of 
course  that  the  sexton,  will  not  show  it,  and  he 
begs  him,  for  '  Heaven's  sake,'  to  blot  out  the 
lines  scored  in  red.  Bran  well  knew  the  'Old 
Knave  of  Trumps'  well,  and  he  was  certain  that 
his  letter  would  cause  no  little  amusement 
among  his  immediate  friends  to  whom  the  sexton 
was  sure  to  read  it.  He  was  ashamed  of  certain 
passages  in  it,  which  is  evidence  enough 
that  it  was  not  the  outcome  of  a  depraved  and 
shameless  nature,  but  rather  the  expression  of 
the  acted  character  of  a  vicious  and  blase  world- 
ling. And  it  is,  moreover,  inconceivable  that  a 
young  man,  who  was  of  the  sensitive  nature 
betokened  by  the  contemporary  poems  we  have 
published,  could,  at  the  same  time,  have  been 
a  hardened  and  cynical  profligate.  Indeed,  it  is 
evident  that  the  objectionable  allusions  were 
not  of  his  origination,  but  were  called  forth  by 
the  remarks  of  others,  for  whom  Branwell  does 
not  fail  to  show  his  contempt. 

It  has,  however,  been  the  misfortune  of  Bran- 
well  Bronte,  that  a  letter  which  he  wrote  in 
folly,  for  the  eyes  of  personal  friends  alone,  has 


been  published  to  the  world  as  the  token  and 
evidence  of  his  infamy.  One  use,  at  any  rate, 
flows  from  the  publication  of  it,  for  it  shows  us 
the  quick  and  vivid  grasp  of  character,  and  the 
incisive  mode  of  composition  which  now  began, 
in  his  more  vigorous  moods,  to  distinguish  its 
author.  The  letter  is  as  follows  : — 

, ;  Broughton-in-Fumess, 
•  March  13,  1840. 


*  Don't  think  I  have  forgotten 
you,  though  I  have  delayed  so  long  in  writing 
to  you.  It  was  my  purpose  to  send  you  a  yarn 
as  soon  as  I  could  find  materials  to  spin  one  with, 
and  it  is  only  just  now  that  I  have  had  time  to 
turn  myself  round  and  know  where  I  am.  If 
you  saw  me  now,  you  would  not  know  me,  and 
you  would  laugh  to  hear  the  character  the  people 
give  me.  Oh,  the  falsehood  and  hypocrisy  of 
this  world !  I  am  fixed  in  a  little  retired  town 
by  the  sea-shore,  among  wild  woody  hills  that 
rise  round  me — huge,  rocky,  and  capped  with 
clouds.  My  employer  is  a  retired  county  magis- 


trate,  a  large  landowner,  and  of  a  right  hearty 
and  generous  disposition.  His  wife  is  a  quietr 
silent,  and  amiable  woman,  and  his  sons  are  two 
fine,  spirited  lads.  My  landlord  is  a  respectable 
surgeon,  and  six  days  out  of  seven  is  as  drunk 
as  a  lord !  His  wife  is  a  bustling,  chattering, 
kind-hearted  soul ;  and  his  daughter! — oh!  death 
and  damnation!  Well,  what  am  I?  That  is,, 
what  do  they  think  I  am  ?  A  most  calm,  sedate, 
sober,  abstemious,  patient,  mild-hearted,  virtuous,, 
gentlemanly  philosopher, — the  picture  of  good 
works,  and  the  treasure-house  of  righteous 
thoughts.  Cards  are  shuffled  under  the  table- 
cloth, glasses  are  thrust  into  the  cupboard,  if  I 
enter  the  room.  I  take  neither  spirits,  wine,  nor 
malt  liquors.  I  dress  in  black,  and  smile  like  a 
saint  or  martyr.  Everybody  says,  "  What  a  good 
young  gentleman  is  Mr.  Postlethwaite's  tutor  !" 
This  is  fact,  as  I  am  a  living  soul,  and  right  com- 
fortably do  I  laugh  at  them.  I  mean  to  continue 
in  their  good  opinion.  I  took  a  half  year's  fare- 
well of  old  friend  whisky  at  Kendal  on  the  night 
after  I  left.  There  was  a  party  of  gentlemen  at 
the  Royal  Hotel,  and  I  joined  them.  We  ordered 
in  supper  and  whisky-toddy  as  "  hot  as  hell !" 


They  thought  I  was  a  physician,  and  put  me  in 
the  chair.  I  gave  sundry  toasts,  that  were 
washed  down  at  the  same  time,  till  the  room 
spun  round  and  the  candles  danced  in  our  eyes. 
One  of  the  guests  was  a  respectable  old  gentle- 
man with  powdered  head,  rosy  cheeks,  fat 
paunch,  and  ringed  fingers.  He  gave  "  The 
Ladies,"  .  .  .  after  which  he  brayed  off  with  a 
speech ;  and  in  two  minutes,  in  the  middle  of  a 
grand  sentence,  he  stopped,  wiped  his  head,  look- 
ed wildly  round,  stammered,  coughed,  stopped 
again,  and  called  for  his  slippers.  The  waiter 
helped  him  to  bed.  Next  a  tall  Irish  squire 
and  a  native  of  the  land  of  Israel  began  to 
quarrel  about  their  countries ;  and,  in  the 
warmth  of  argument,  discharged  their  glasses, 
each  at  his  neighbour's  throat  instead  of  his 
own.  I  recommended  bleeding,  purging,  and 
blistering ;  but  they  administered  each  other  a 
real  "  Jem  Warder,"  so  I  flung  my  tumbler  on 
the  floor,  too,  and  swore  I'd  join  "  Old  Ireland  !" 
A  regular  rumpus  ensued,  but  we  were  tamed 
at  last.  I  found  myself  in  bed  next  morning, 
with  a  bottle  of  porter,  a  glass,  and  a  corkscrew 
beside  me.  Since  then  I  have  not  tasted  any- 
VOL.  I.  S 


thing  stronger  than  milk-and-water,  nor,  I  hope, 
shall,  till  I  return  at  Midsummer  ;  when  we  will 
see  about  it.  I  am  getting  as  fat  as  Prince 
William  at  Springhead,  and  as  godly  as  his 
friend,  Parson  Winterbotham.  My  hand  shakes 
no  longer.  I  ride  to  the  banker's  at  Ulverston 
with  Mr.  Postlethwaite,  and  sit  drinking  tea  and 
talking  scandal  with  old  ladies.  As  to  the 
young  ones !  I  have  one  sitting  by  me  just  now 
— fair-faced,  blue-eyed,  dark-haired,  sweet 
eighteen — she  little  thinks  the  devil  is  so  near 

'  I  was  delighted  to  see  thy  note,  old  squire, 
but  I  do  not  understand  one  sentence — you 
will  perhaps  know  what  I  mean  .  .  .  How  are 
all  about  you  ?  I  long  to  hear  and  see  them 
again.  How  is  the  "  Devil's  Thumb,"  whom 
men  call ,  and  the  "  Devil  in  Mourn- 
ing," whom  they  call .  How  are 

,  and ,  and  the  Doctor;  and  him 

who  will  be  used  as  the  tongs  of  hell — he  whose 
eyes  Satan  looks  out  of,  as  from  windows — I  mean 

,  esquire  ?     How  are  little , 

"  Longshanks," ,  and  the  rest  of 

them  ?      Are  they  married,  buried,  devilled,  and 


damned  ?  When  I  come  I'll  give  them  a  good 
squeeze  of  the  hand ;  till  then  I  am  too  godly 
for  them  to  think  of.  That  bow-legged  devil 
used  to  ask  me  impertinent  questions  which  I 
answered  him  in  kind.  Beelzebub  will  make  of 
him  a  walking-stick  !  Keep  to  thy  teetotalism, 
old  squire,  till  1  return ;  it  will  mend  thy  old 
body  ....  Does  "  Little  Nosey  "  think  I  have 
forgotten  him  ?  No,  by  Jupiter !  nor  his  clock 
either.1  I'll  send  him  a  remembrancer  some  of 
these  days !  But  I  must  talk  to  some  one 
prettier  than  thee ;  so  good-night,  old  boy,  and 
'  Believe  me  thine, 


'Write  directly.  Of  course  you  won't  show 
this  letter ;  and,  for  Heaven's  sake,  blot  out  all 
the  lines  scored  with  red  ink.' 

This  letter,  as  I  have  intimated,  was  never 
intended  for  more  than  a  moment's  amusement, 
at  most,  to  a  small  circle  of  acquaintances  at 

1  The  clock  mentioned  by  Branwell  was  one  that  stood 
in  a  corner  of  the  '  Snug '  at  '  The  Bull,'  inside  the  door 
of  which  the  landlord — '  Little  Nosey ' — used  to  chalk  up 
the  '  shots '  of  his  guests. 



Hawortb,  and  was  not  to  exist  after  having 
been  read.  But  John  Brown  kept  the  letter, 
which  I  saw  and  copied.  It  is  a  curious 
circumstance,  illustrating  the  hold  which 
it  obtained  over  the  Haworth  circle,  that, 
though  the  original  was  lost  so  long  since  as 
1874,  the  brother  of  the  sexton  knew  it  by 
heart,  and  could  repeat  it  with  considerable 
accuracy.  In  this  way  it  has  been  several  times 
written  down.  No  allusion  would  have  been 
made  to  the  letter  in  the  present  work,  if  Miss 
Robinson — strange  to  say — had  not  thought  it 
a  fitting  embellishment  for  her  '  Emily  Bronte/ 
If  Branwell  had  known  its  fate  at  the  moment 
he  wrote  it,  it  would  never  have  reached  the 
'  Worshipful  Master  of  the  Lodge  of  the  Three 
Graces,'  but  would  have  been  committed  to  the 
flames  by  his  own  hand ;  for,  as  we  have  seen, 
he  was  ashamed  of  some  expressions  scored  in 
red,  which  he  begged  might  be  obliterated. 

This  letter,  Jaowever,  is  valuable ;  inasmuch 
as  it  shows  what  Branwell,  at  this  young  period 
of  his  life,  knew  about  human  nature,  and  the 
depths  to  which  it  can  descend.  He  had  pene- 
trated into  the  passions,  feelings,  and  disposi- 


tions  of  his  acquaintances  by  frequent  intercourse, 
by  keen  perception,  and  by  familiar  conversation. 
He  had  heard  them,  noticed  them,  and  could 
paint  their  characters  with  unerring  precision 
-and  vivid  colouring.  He  was  acquainted  with 
the  ways  of  society,  and  the  customs  of  domestic 
life.  The  world  was  to  him  a  picture-gallery, 
arid  all  living  things  in  it  were  studies  of  the 
deepest  interest.  His  knowledge  of  men  and 
manners,  of  the  hard,  implacable,  and  selfish, 
and  also  of  the  soft,  tender,  and  gentle  natures 
of  men  and  women,  enabled  him  to  cast  their 
stories  of  sorrow  and  gladness  faithfully  and 

At  the  time  when  he  had  attained  manhood, 
when  his  intellects  were  reaching  their  full 
development,  he  had  already  been  drawn  into 
society,  and  indoctrinated  into  the  mysteries  of 
Haworth  life  ;  and  had  become  acquainted  with 
the  excesses  of  men  older  and  harder  than 
himself.  It  cannot  be  wondered  at  that,  if  he 
had  learned  more  than  is  usual  in  youth,  he  did 
not  escape  the  temptations  attendant  on  the 
peculiar  knowledge  he  had  acquired.  But, 
while  he  was  thus  passing  through  the  crooked 


ways  and  reckless  deviations  of  the  world,  ob- 
taining a  large  crop  of  experiences,  good  and 
bad,  his  sisters  were,  for  the  most  part,  at  home, 
living  like  recluses,  and,  when  away,  were  still 
in  similar  seclusion.  Of  Emily,  Charlotte  says, 
'I  am  bound  to  avow  that  she  had  scarcely 
more  practical  knowledge  of  the  peasantry 
amongst  whom  she  lived,  than  a  nun  has  of  the 
country  people  who  sometimes  pass  her  convent 
gates.  My  sister's  disposition  was  not  natur- 
ally gregarious;  circumstances  favoured  and 
fostered  her  tendency  to  seclusion ;  except  to  go 
to  church  or  take  a  walk  on  the  hills,  she  rarely 
crossed  the  threshold  of  home.  Though  her 
feeling  for  the  people  round  her  was  benevolent, 
intercourse  with  them  she  never  sought,  nor, 
with  very  few  exceptions,  ever  experienced. 
And  yet  she  knew  them,  knew  their  ways,  their 
language,  their  family  histories ;  she  could  hear 
of  them  with  interest,  and  talk  of  them  with 
detail,  minute,  graphic,  and  accurate ;  but  with 
them  she  rarely  exchanged  a  word.'1  But 
Branwell  walked  and  held  personal  intercourse, 
as  we  have  seen,  with  the  people  whom  Emily 

1  Charlotte  Bronte. — Memoir  prefixed  to  '  Wuthering  Heights.* 


shunned ;  and  his  personal  knowledge,  and  his 
unquestionable  genius  combined,  enabled  him 
to  grasp  and  appreciate,  to  dissect  with  pene- 
trating skill,  and  to  estimate  and  define  the 
tendency  of  the  strong  and  marked  character 
of  the  people  around  him.  It  is,  therefore, 
doubly  unfortunate  that,  from  Branwell,  we  have 
little  remaining  in  the  way  of  graphic  descrip- 
tion, and  that  tlje  rich  treasures  of  observation 
which  he  outpoured  have,  for  the  most  part,  left 
their  impressions  only  in  the  memories  of  those 
who  were  privileged  to  hear  him  discourse. 




Branwell's  Appointment  at  Ulverston  ends — He  gets  a 
Situation  on  the  Railroad  at  Sowerby  Bridge — Bran- 
well  at  Luddenden  Foot — His  Friends'  Reminiscences 
of  him — Charlotte  and  Emily  reading  French  Novels — 
Charlotte  obtains  a  Situation — Anxious  about  Anne — 
School  Project  of  the  Sisters — Charlotte's  keen  Desire 
to  visit  Brussels — Her  Letter  to  her  Aunt  Branwell. 

IF  the  performance  of  the  responsible  duties  of 
his  appointment  at  Mr.  Postlethwaite's,  which 
ended,  at  his  father's  wish,  in  the  June  of  1840, 
had  been  felt  by  Branwell  as  a  banishment 
from  the  cheerful  company  of  his  Ha  worth  ac- 
quaintances, it  had  been  still  greater  from  his 
artistic  and  literary  friends  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Bradford  and  Halifax.  Hence  he 
sought,  with  a  perseverance  amounting  to 


anxiety,  to  obtain  a  post  on  the  Leeds  and 
Manchester  Railway, — to  the  opening  of  which 
he  had  looked  forward  with  concern — at  some 
place  in  the  valley  of  the  Calder,  near  Halifax ; 
and  he  received  the  appointment  of  clerk  in 
charge,  at  the  station  at  Sowerby  Bridge. 
Charlotte  says  of  BranwelFs  determination :  '  a 
distant  relation  of  mine,  one  Patrick  Branwell, 
has  set  off  to  seek  his  fortune  in  the  wild,  wan- 
dering, adventurous,  romantic,  knight-errant-like 
capacity  of  clerk  on  the  Leeds  and  Manchester 
Railroad.'1  Branwell  commenced  his  new  occu- 
pation at  Sowerby  Bridge  on  the  1st  of  October, 
1840,  just  before  the  opening  of  the  line  from 
Hebden  Bridge  to  Normanton. 

As  has  been  already  seen,  an  acquaintance  had 
existed  between  Branwell  and  Leyland ;  but  now 
that  the  former  had  become  a  resident  in  the 
immediate  neighbourhood,  after  his  visits  to  the 
artist's  studio  had  been  interrupted  for  six 
months,  or  more,  by  his  stay  at  Broughton-in- 
Furness,  a  more  frequent  intercourse  followed 
between  the  two.  It  was  on  a  bright  Sunday 
afternoon  in  the  autumn  of  1840,  at  the  desire 
1  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronto,'  chap.  ix. 


of  my  brother,  the  sculptor,  that  I  accompanied 
him  to  the  station  at  Sowerby  Bridge  to  see 
Branwell.  The  young  railway  clerk  was  of 
gentleman-like  appearance,  and  seemed  to  be 
qualified  for  a  much  better  position  than  the 
one  he  had  chosen.  In  stature  he  was  a  little 
below  the  middle  height ;  not  '  almost  insignifi- 
cantly small,'  as  Mr.  Grundy  states,  nor  had  he 
'  a  downcast  look ;'  neither  was  he  '  a  plain 
specimen  of  humanity.'1  He  was  slim  and 
agile  in  figure,  yet  of  well-formed  outline.  His 
complexion  was  clear  and  ruddy,  and  the  ex- 
pression of  his  face,  at  the  time,  lightsome  and 
cheerful.  His  voice  had  a  ringing  sweetness, 
and  the  utterance  and  use  of  his  English  were 
perfect.  Branwell  appeared  to  be  in  excellent 
spirits,  and  showed  none  of  those  traces  of 
intemperance  with  which  some  writers  have 
unjustly  credited  him  about  this  period  of  his 

My  brother  had  often  spoken  to  me  of  Bran- 
well's  poetical  abilities,  his  conversational  powers,, 
and  the  polish  of  his  education  ;  and,  on  a  per- 

1  '  Pictures  of  the  Past,'  by  Francis  H.  Grundy,  C.E. 
(1879)  p.  75. 


sonal  acquaintance,  I  found  nothing  to  question 
in  this  estimate  of  his  mental  gifts,  and  of  his 
literary  attainments. 

Branwell  stayed  at  Sowerby  Bridge  some 
months,  whence  he  was  transferred,  in  1 841,  to- 
Luddenden  Foot,  a  place  about  a  mile  further 
up  the  valley,  where  a  station  had  been  recently 
fixed.  Mr.  Grundy,  who  was  an  assistant-en- 
gineer on  the  line,  became  acquainted  with 
Branwell  at  the  latter  place;  and  says  of -it, 
'  there  was  no  village  near  at  hand,'  and  that, 
'had  a  position  been  chosen  for  this  strange 
creature,  for  the  express  purpose  of  driving  him 
several  steps  to  the  bad,  this  must  have  been 

Mr.  Grundy  must  have  spoken  from  memory 
only.  The  ancient  village  of  Luddeuden  Foot, 
within  two  minutes'  walk  of  the  station,  with  its 
population  employed  in  the  mills  and  manu- 
factories of  the  neighbourhood,  together  with 
its  two  old  hostelries  of  the  '  Red  Lion,'  and  the 
'  Shuttle  and  Anchor,'  was  surely  sufficient  to 
banish  all  solitude  and  wiklness  from  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Branwell's  sojourn.  Yet  the  change- 

1  '  Pictures  of  the  Past,'  p.  75. 


rwas  scarcely  a  desirable  one,  and  doubtless 
helped  to  disgust  Bran  well  with  his  employ- 
ment. It  is  to  be  regretted  that  the  respective 
occupations  of  Branwell  and  Mr.  Grundy  were 
of  such  a  nature  as  to  prevent  a  regular  and 
continual  intercourse,  and  that  distance  of  time 
and  place  have  so  far  dimmed  Mr.  Grundy's  re- 
miniscences of  his  friend,  that,  valuable  though 
the  letters  he  has  wisely  preserved  are,  many  in- 
accuracies have  entered  into  his  recollections  of 
him,  and  Mrs.  Gaskell's  exaggerated  account 
has  had  undue  weight  in  the  picture  he  has 

Mr.  William  Heaton,  author  of  a  minor  volume 
of  poems  entitled  the  '  Flowers  of  Caldervale,' 
knew  Branwell  Bronte  well  when  he  was  at  Lud- 
denden  Foot.  He  wrote  to  me  a  letter  in  which 
occurred  the  following  description  of  his  mind 
and  character,  and  also  of  his  conversation  when 
at  one  of  the  village  inns,  where  they  sometimes 
met : — 

'  He  was,'  says  Heaton,  '  blithe  and  gay,  but 
at  times  appeared  downcast  and  sad  ;  yet,  if  the 
subject  were  some  topic  that  he  was  acquainted 
with,  or  some  author  he  loved,  he  would  rise  from 


his  seat,  aud,  iu  beautiful  language,  describe  the 
author's  character,  with  a  zeal  and  fluency  I  had 
never  heard  equalled.  His  talents  were  of  a 
very  exalted  kind.  I  have  heard  him  quote 
pieces  from  the  bard  of  Avon,  from  Shelley, 
Wordsworth,  and  Byron,  as  well  as  from 
Butler's  "  Hudibras,"  in  such  a  manner  as  often 
made  me  wish  I  had  been  a  scholar,  as  he 
was.  At  that  time  I-  was  just  beginning  to 
write  verses.  It  is  true  I  had  written  many 
pieces,  but  they  had  never  seen  the  light ;  and, 
on  a  certain  occasion,  I  showed  him  one,  which 
he  pronounced  very  good.  He  lent  me  books 
which  I  had  never  seen  before,  and  was  ever 
ready  to  give  me  information.  His  temper  was 
always  mild  towards  me.  I  shall  never  forget 
his  love  for  the  sublime  and  beautiful  work's  of 
Nature,  nor  how  he  would  tell  of  the  lovely 
flowers  and  rare  plants  he  had  observed  by  the 
mountain  stream  and  woodland  rill.  All  these 
had  excellencies  for  him  ;  and  I  have  often  heard 
him  dilate  on  the  sweet  strains  of  the  nightin- 
gale, and  on  the  thoughts  that  bewitched  him 
the  first  time  he  heard  one.' 

During     Branwell's    twelvemonths'    stay    at 


Ludclenden  Foot,  he  formed  new  acquaintances, 
but  the  avocations,  tastes,  and  pursuits  of  the 
well-to-do  inhabitants  did  not  accord  with  his  ; 
and  he,  perhaps,  more  frequently  than  was  com- 
patible with  his  duties,  visited  Halifax  to  seek 
the  intellectual  enjoyment  which  his  own  narrow 
occupation  and  the  society  of  Luddenden  Foot 
did  not  afford. 

While  he  was  occupied  in  the  service  of  the 
railway  company  at  this  place,  we  hear  nothing 
relating  to  him,  of  moment,  in  Charlotte's  corre- 
spondence. Happy  that  he  was  employed,  his 
sisters  engaged  eagerly  and  earnestly  in  devising 
schemes  for  obtaining  a  livelihood  that  might 
enable  them  to  work  together  for  their  mutual 
assistance  in  literary  labour. 

Charlotte  was  still  at  home  with  Emily,  read- 
ing French  novels,  of  which,  we  learn,  she  had 
got  another  bale,  '  containing  upwards  of  forty 
volumes.'  'I  have  read  about  half,'  she  says. 
'  They  are  like  the  rest,  clever,  wicked,  sophis- 
tical, and  immoral.  The  best  of  it  is,  they  give 
one  a  thorough  idea  of  France  and  Paris,  and 
are  the  best  substitute  for  French  conversation.' 
We  scarcely  recognize,  in  this  employment,  the 


Charlotte  Bronte  of  three  years  before,  whose 
religious  mania  was  driving  her  to  despair,  un- 
less, indeed,  it  be  in  the  force  with  which  she 
pursues  the  new  bent  of  her  inclination.  She  has 
read  twenty  volumes  of  this,  the  second,  batch, 
and  was  proposing  to  read  twenty  more.  It 
was  her  expectation  that,  by  this  process,  she 
would  become  sufficiently  familiar  with  the 
language  to  enable  her  to  teach  it  to 

In  the  letter  in  which  she  announced  that 
Branwell  had  gone  to  his  post  on  the  railway 
— written  in  good  spirits,  when  she  saw  every- 
thing couleu)'-de-rose,  which,  however,  she  at- 
tributes to  the  high  wind  blowing  over  the 
*  hills  of  Judea '  at  Haworth — she  says  :  '  A  wo- 
man of  the  name  of  Mrs.  B ,  it  seems,  wants 

a  teacher.  I  wish  she  would  have  me;  and 
I  have  written  to  Miss  Wooller  to  tell  her  so. 
Verily,  it  is  a  delightful  thing  to  live  at  home, 
at  full  liberty  to  do  just  what  one  pleases.  But 
I  recollect  some  scrubby  old  fable  about  grass- 
hoppers and  ants,  by  a  scrubby  old  knave, 
yclept  /Esop  ;  the  grasshoppers  sang  all  the 
summer,  and  starved  all  the  winter.' 


Branwell  was  proving  himself  no  grasshopper, 
for,  if  he  sang,  he  was  anxious  to  exert  himself 
in  a  practical  way  at  the  same  time;  and,  so 
far,  he  was  doing  well  at  Luddenden  Foot. 
Charlotte,  too,  was  resolved  to  be  employed, 

but  the  negotiation  with  Mrs.  B failed.    The 

lady  expressed  herself  pleased  with  the  frank- 
ness with  which  Charlotte  stated  her  qualifica- 
tions, but  she  required  some  one  who  could 
undertake  to  give  instruction  in  music  and 
singing.  This  Miss  Bronte  could  not  do.  She 
does  not  appear  to  have  had  the  musical  taste 
which  her  brother  and  sisters  had  inherited 
from  the  Branwell  family.  She  resembled  her 
father,  perhaps,  more  closely  than  did  any  of 
the  other  children.  At  last,  however,  in  March, 
1841,  she  entered  her  second  situation  as  a 
private  governess.  'I  told  you,  some  time 
since/  she  writes  to  her  friend,  '  that  I  meant 
to  get  a  situation,  and,  when  I  said  so,  my 
resolution  was  quite  fixed.  I  felt  that,  however 
often  I  was  disappointed,  I  had  no  intention 
of  relinquishing  my  efforts.  After  being  severe- 
ly baffled  two  or  three  times — after  a  world  of 
trouble,  in  the  way  of  correspondence  and  in- 


terviews — I  have  at  length  succeeded,  and  am 
fairly  established  in  my  new  place.' 

Charlotte  found  her  residence  not  very  large, 
but  the  grounds  were  fine  and  extensive.  She 
had  made  some  sacrifice  to  secure  comfort,  as 
she  says,  not  good  living,  but  cheerful  faces 
and  warm  hearts.  Her  pupils  were  two  in 
number,  one  a  girl  of  eight,  and  the  other  a 
boy  of  six.  Though  always  more  or  less  afflict- 
ed with  home-sickness,  whenever  she  was  at 
a  distance  from  her  father's  house,  with  its 
familiar  and  affectionate  ways,  she  enjoyed,  in 
her  new  place,  considerable  relief  from  it,  owing 
to  the  spontaneous  generosity  and  kindliness 
of  her  employers.  She  says,  indeed,  *  My  earn- 
est wish  and  endeavour  will  be  to  please  them. 
If  I  can  but  feel  that  I  am  giving  satisfaction, 
and  if,  at  the  same  time,  I  can  keep  my  health, 
I  shall,  I  hope,  be  moderately  happy.  But  no 
one  but  myself  can  tell  how  hard  a  gover- 
ness's work  is  to  me — for  no  one  but  myself 
is  aware  how  utterly  averse  my  whole  mind 
and  nature  are  for  the  employment.  Do  not 
think  that  I  fail  to  blame  myself  for  this,  or 
that  I  leave  any  means  unemployed  to  conquer 

VOL.  I.  T 


this  feeling.  Some  of  my  greatest  difficulties 
lie  in  things  that  would  appear  to  you  com- 
paratively trivial.  I  find  it  so  hard  to  repel  the 
rude  familiarity  of  children.  I  find  it  so  difficult 
to  ask  either  servants  or  mistress  for  anything 
I  want,  however  much  I  want  it.  It  is  less 
pain  for  me  to  endure  the  greatest  inconveni- 
ence than  to  go  into  the  kitchen  to  request  its 
removal.  I  am  a  fool.  Heaven  knows  I  cannot 
help  it' 

Charlotte  found  matters  a  little  easier  after 
the  first  month  of  her  stay,  and  her  home-sick- 
ness became  less  oppressive.  Though  her  time 
was  much  occupied,  great  kindness  was  shown 
towards  her,  and  her  father  and  her  friend  were 
invited  to  come  to  see  her. 

In  June  she  wrote,  in  the  absence  of  her 
employer,  '  You  can  hardly  fancy  it  possible,  I 
dare  say,  that  I  cannot  find  a  quarter-of-an-hour 
to  scribble  a  note  in ;  but  so  it  is ;  and  when  a 
note  is  written,  it  has  to  be  carried  a  mile  to  the 
post,  and  that  consumes  nearly  an  hour,  which 

is  a  large  portion  of  the  day.  Mr.  and  Mrs.  

have  been  gone  a  week.  I  heard  from  them  this 
morning.  No  time  is  fixed  for  their  return,  but 


I  hope  it  will  not  be  delayed  long,  or  I  shall  miss 
the  chance  of  seeing  Anne  this  vacation.  She 
came  home,  I  understand,  last  Wednesday,  and 
is  only  to  be  allowed  three  weeks'  vacation, 
because  the  family  she  is  with  are  going  to 
Scarborough.  /  should  like  to  see  her,  to  judge 
for  myself  of  the  state  of  her  health.  I  dare  not 
trust  any  other  person's  report,  no  one  seems 
minute  enough  in  their  observations.  I  should 
very  much  have  liked  you  to  have  seen  her.  I 
have  got  on  very  well  with  the  servants  and 
children  so  far ;  yet  it  is  dreary,  solitary  work. 
You  can  tell  as  well  as  me  the  lonely  feeling  of 
being  without  a  companion.'1 

The  delicate  Anne,  struggling  with  all  the 
troubles,  the  indignities,  of  the  life  of  a  governess, 
was  a  picture  that  was  naturally  distressing 
enough  to  Charlotte,  ever  anxious,  ever  watchful 
over  the  welfare  of  her  youngest  sister,  and  she 
would,  perhaps,  be  apt,  in  her  imagination,  to 
exaggerate  her  sister's  difficulties  in  the  light  of 
her  own.  In  truth  the  sisters  had  qualities  of 
mind  and  heart  which  did  much  to  unfit  them 
for  the  enjoyment  of  content  or  happiness 
1 '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte.'  chap.  x. 

T  2 


amongst  strangers.  Charlotte,  in  particular,  with 
a  nature,  sensitive,  observant,  and  tenacious ;  an 
imagination  highly  wrought,  active,  and  fertile,, 
but  too  often  morbid;  with  a  will,  powerful,  yet 
constrained  by  the  nervous  weakness  of  an  excit- 
able constitution,  could  with  difficulty  conform 
inclination  to  the  necessities  of  such  a  career ; 
she  longed  for  freedom.  It  was  not  surprising, 
then,  that  when  Charlotte  reached  Haworth — 
which  she  did  before  Anne's  return — there  was  a 
revival  of  the  project  I  have  before  mentioned 
of  the  opening  of  a  school,  wherein  they  could 
enjoy  the  liberty  of  home. 

Mr.  Bronte  and  Miss  Branwell  were  not  un- 
favourably disposed  towards  the  project,  and 
they  conversed  now  and  then,  at  the  breakfast 
table  or  in  the  evenings,  as  to  how  they  could 
best  help  the  girls  into  the  position  they  so  much 
coveted.  The  sisters  must  always  have  had  a 
friend  in  their  father  in  these  matters ;  he  could 
not  but  be  pleased  and  interested  in  struggles 
and  expectations  which  reproduced  so  closely 
the  hopeful  days  of  his  own  early  life,  and  we 
learn,  as  the  result  of  the  deliberations  of  the 
elders,  that  the  aunt  offered  a  loan,  or  intimated 


that  she  would,  perhaps,  offer  one,  in  case  her 
nieces  could  give  some  assurance  of  the  solidity 
-of  their  plans  in  the  shape  of  a  situation  decided 
upon  and  of  pupils  promised.  The  East-Riding 
was  thought  to  be  not  so  well  provided  with 
schools  as  the  West,  and  the  favourite  idea  of 
the  sisters  was  to  open  their  projected  academy 
in  the  neighbourhood  of  Burlington,  where  the 
health,  both  of  themselves  and  of  their  pupils, 
might  be  hoped  for.  But  there  was  a  question 
how  much  their  aunt  would  be  disposed  to 
advance  them.  Charlotte  did  not  think  she 
would  sink  more  than  £150  in  such  a  venture, 
and  she  doubted  if  this  Avould  be  a  sufficient  sum 
with  which  to  establish  a  school  and  commence 
house-keeping,  on  however  modest  a  scale. 
These  were  reflections  which  damped  a  little  the 
excitement  of  hopeful  expectation  in  which  the 
sisters,  especially  Charlotte,  revolved  these  plans. 
She  anxiously  awaited  the  coming  of  her  friend, 
on  the  day  she  was  expected  to  visit  them 
during  their  holidays  at  the  parsonage,  wearying 
her  eyes  with  watching  from  the  Avindow,  eye- 
glass in  hand,  and,  sometimes,  spectacles  on 
nose,  eager  to  talk  over  her  schemes  with  some 


one  else  than  her  sisters  and  to  hear  a  new 
opinion.  But  her  friend  could  not  come,  and 
she  says,  '  a  hundred  things  I  had  to  say  to  you 
will  now  be  forgotten,  and  never  said.'  Char- 
lotte began  to  fear  some  time  must  elapse  before 
her  plans  could  be  executed,  and  she  resolved 
not  to  relinquish  her  situation  till  something  was 
assured.  But  this  expectation  of  keeping  a 
school,  cherished  through  long  years,  was  never 
realized  by  the  sisters ;  ever  and  anon  the  shift- 
ing sands  of  circumstance,  the  changing  currents 
of  life,  moved  them  away,  even  while  they 
believed  themselves  approaching  the  goal  of 
their  hopes. 

Charlotte  returned  to  her  situation,  and  she 
tells  her  friend,  in  a  letter  dated  August  the  7th, 
1841,  that  she  <  felt  herself  again.  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
were  from  home,  and  she  takes  the  oppor- 
tunity of  saying  that  to  be  solitary  there  was 
to  her  the  happiest  part  of  her  time.  She 
enters  into  particulars  of  the  household :  the 
children  were  under  decent  control,  and  the 
servants  were  observant  and  attentive  to  her ; 
she  says  of  herself,  moreover,  that  the  absence 
of  the  master  and  mistress  relieved  her  from  the 


duty  of  always  putting  on  the  appearance  of 
being  cheerful  and  conversable. 

Her  friends,  Martha  and  Mary  T ,  were 

enjoying  great  advantages  on  the  Continent, 
where  they  had  gone  to  stay  a  month  with  their 
brother.  Charlotte  had  had  a  long  letter  from 
Mary,  and  a  packet  enclosing  a  handsome  black 
silk  scarf,  and  a  pair  of  beautiful  kid  gloves 
bought  in  Brussels  as  a  present.  She  was 
pleased  with  them,  and  that  she  had  been  re- 
membered so  far  off,  amidst  the  excitement  of 
'  one  of  the  most  splendid  capitals  of  Europe.' 
Mary's  letters  spoke  of  '  some  of  the  pictures 
and  cathedrals  she  had  seen — pictures  the  most 
exquisite,  cathedrals  the  most  venerable.'  Some- 
thing swelled  to  the  throat  of  Charlotte  as  she 
read  this  account.  She  was  seized  with  a 
'  vehement  impatience  of  restraint  and  steady 
work;  such  a  strong  wish  for  wings — wings 
such  as  wealth  can  furnish  ;  such  an  urgent  thirst 
to  see,  to  know,  to  learn ;  something  internal 
seemed  to  expand  bodily  for  a  minute.'  She 
was  tantalized  for  a  time  by  the  consciousness 
of  faculties  unexercised;  then  all  collapsed. 
She  considered  these  emotions,  momentary  as 


they  were,  rebellious  and  absurd,  and  they  were 
speedily  quelled  by  the  resolute  spirit  they  had 
disturbed.  She  hoped  they  would  not  revive, 
as  they  had  been  acutely  painful.  The  school 
project,  instead  of  at  all  fading,  was  gaining 
strength,  and  the  three  sisters  kept  it  in  view 
as  the  pole-star  round  which  all  their  other 
schemes,  as  of  lesser  importance,  revolved.  To 
this  they  looked  in  their  despondency.  Char- 
lotte was  haunted,  sometimes,  and  dismayed,  at 
the  conviction  that  she  had  no  natural  knack 
for  her  occupation.  She  says  that,  if  teaching 
only  were  requisite,  all  would  be  smooth  and 
easy ;  and  she  adds,  '  but  it  is  the  living  in 
other  people's  houses — the  estrangement  from 
one's  real  character — the  adoption  of  a  cold, 
rigid,  apathetic  exterior,  that  is  painful.' 

It  appears  that  Miss  Wooler  was  about  this 
time  intending  to  give  up  her  school  at  Dews- 
bury  Moor,  and  had  offered  it  to  the  Misses 
Bronte.  One  or  two  disadvantages  had  to  be 
set  against  the  favourable  terms  on  which  they 
might  have  the  school.  The  situation  could  not 
commend  itself  to  Charlotte,  anxious  as  she 
was  concerning  Anne's  health ;  the  number  of 


pupils  had  also  diminished,  and  it  would  be 
necessary  to  offer  special  advantages  in  the  way 
of  education  before  they  could  hope  to  have  a 
prosperous  establishment — so  their  friends  ar- 
gued. But  Charlotte  had  resolved  to  take  the 
school.  The  sisters,  however,  could  not  feel 
confident  that  their  qualifications  were  such  as 
would  render  success  certain.  Hence,  a  sug- 
gestion that  was  made  to  Charlotte  which  would 
provide  her  with  the  necessary  powers,  was  at 
once  taken  up  with  all  the  energy  of  her  nature  ; 
she  thus  writes  to  her  aunt,  on  whom  all  must 
depend : 

'  September  29th,  1841. 


'  I  have  heard  nothing  of  Miss 
Wooler  yet  since  I  wrote  to  her,  intimating 
that  I  would  accept  her  offer.  I  cannot  conjec- 
ture the  reason  of  this  long  silence,  unless  some 
unforeseen  impediment  has  occurred  in  con- 
cluding the  bargain.  Meantime  apian  has  been 

suggested  and  approved  by  Mr.  and  Sirs.  ' 

(the  father  and  mother  of  her  pupils)  '  and 
others,  which  I  wish  now  to  impart  to  you.  My 
friends  recommend  me,  if  I  desire  to  secure  per- 


manent  success,  to  delay  commencing  the  school 
for  six  months  longer,  and  by  all  means  to  con- 
trive, by  hook  or  by  crook,  to  spend  the  inter- 
vening time  in  some  school  on  the  continent. 
They  say  schools  in  England  are  so  numerous, 
competition  so  great,  that  without  some  such 
step  towards  attaining  superiority,  we  shall 
probably  have  a  very  hard  struggle,  and  may 
fail  in  the  end.  They  say,  moreover,  that  the 
loan  of  £100,  which  you  have  been  so  kind  as 
to  offer  us,  will,  perhaps,  not  be  all  required 
now,  as  Miss  Wooler  will  lend  us  the  furniture  ; 
and  that,  if  the  speculation  is  intended  to  be  a 
good  and  successful  one,  half  the  sum,  at  least, 
ought  to  be  laid  out  in  the  manner  I  have 
mentioned,  thereby  insuring  a  more  speedy 
repayment  both  of  interest  and  principal. 

'  I  would  not  go  to  France  or  to  Paris.  I 
would  go  to  Brussels  in  Belgium.  The  cost  of 
the  journey  there,  at  the  dearest  rate  of  travel- 
ling, would  be  £5 ;  living  there  is  little  more 
than  half  as  dear  as  it  is  in  England,  and  the 
facilities  for  education  are  equal  or  superior  to 
any  other  place  in  Europe.  In  half  a  year,  I 
could  acquire  a  thorough  familiarity  with 


French.  1  could  improve  greatly  in  Italian, 
and  even  get  a  clash  of  German ;  i.e.,  provided 
my  health  continued  as  good  as  it  is  now. 
Mary  is  now  staying  at  Brussels,  at  a  first-rate 
establishment  there.  I  should  not  think  of 
going  to  the  Chateau  de  Kokleberg,  where  she 
is  resident,  as  the  terms  are  much  too  high; 
but  if  I  wrote  to  her,  she,  with  the  assistance 
o  Mrs.  Jenkins,  the  wife  of  the  British  Chap- 
lain, would  be  able  to  secure  me  a  cheap,  decent 
residence  and  respectable  protection.  I  should 
have  the  opportunity  of  seeing  her  frequently : 
she  would  make  me  acquainted  with  the  city ; 
and,  with  the  assistance  of  her  cousins,  I  should 
probably  be  introduced  to  connections  far  more 
improving,  polished,  and  cultivated,  than  any  I 
have  yet  known. 

'  These  are  advantages  which  would  turn  to 
real  account,  when  we  actually  commenced 
a  school ;  and,  if  Emily  could  share  them  with 
me,  we  could  take  a  footing  in  the  world 
afterwards  which  we  can  never  do  now.  1 
say  Emily  instead  of  Anne ;  for  Anne  might 
take  her  turn  at  some  future  period,  if  our 
school  answered.  I  feel  certain,  while  I  arn 


writing,  that  you  will  see  the  propriety  of  what 
I  say.  You  always  like  to  use  your  money 
to  the  best  advantage.  You  are  not  fond  of 
making  shabby  purchases ;  when  you  do  con- 
fer a  favour,  it  is  often  done  in  style ;  and 
depend  upon  it,  £50  or  £100,  thus  laid  out, 
would  be  well  employed.  Of  course  I  know 
no  other  friend  in  the  world  to  whom  I  could 
apply  on  this  subject  except  yourself.  I  feel 
an  absolute  conviction  that,  if  this  advantage 
were  allowed  us,  it  would  be  the  making  of 
us  for  life.  Papa  will,  perhaps,  a  wild 
and  ambitious  scheme ;  but  whoever  rose  in 
the  world  without  ambition1?  When  he  left 
Ireland  to  go  to  Cambridge  University,  he 
was  as  ambitious  as  I  am  now.  I  want  us 
all  to  get  on.  I  know  we  have  talents,  and 
I  want  them  to  be  turned  to  account.  I  look 
to  you,  aunt,  to  help  us.  I  think  you  will 
not  refuse.  I  know,  if  you  consent,  it  shall  not 
be  my  fault  if  you  ever  repent  your  kindness.' 

Charlotte  had  some  time  to  wait  for  an  an- 
swer, but  it  came  at  last ;  her  enthusiasm  had 
carried  the  day.  The  answer  was  favourable : 
she  and  Emily  were  to  go  to  Brussels. 


At  times,  during  his  stay  with  the  railway 
company,  Branwell  would  drive  over  from  Lud- 
denden  Foot  to  visit  his  family  at  the  Haworth 
parsonage,  having  hired  a  gig  for  the  purpose. 
Mr.  Grundy  sometimes  accompanied  him,  and 
they  would  escape  to  the  moors  together,  or 
pay  curious  visits  to  the  old  fortune-teller,  with 
the  curates.     Then,  says  his  friend,  he  was  '  at 
his  best,  and  would  be  eloquent  and  amusing, 
though,  on  returning  sometimes,  he  would  burst 
into  tears,  and  swear  he  meant  to  mend.'     This 
last  statement  is  favourable  to  Branwell's  calm 
judgment  upon  himself.     Few — and  Branwell 
was   one   of    the    last — drift    deliberately  into 
wrong-doing.     He  was,   like   most   other   men, 
often  placed  under  influences  which  a  habit  of 
attention  and  self-control  would  have  enabled 
him  to  resist.     He  knew,  perhaps,  in  a  desultory 
way,  what  he  ought  to  do,  and  what  he  ought 
not;    but,  owing  to   his  inattention   to   conse- 
quences, he  might,  now  and  then,  go  wrong, 
sometimes   yielding   to   whatever  illusion   was 
paramount  within,  acting  in  concert  with  what- 
ever was  most  alluring  without ;  yet  he  could 
draw  his  mental  forces  together,  and  review 


his  past  actions  with  keen  and  painful  accuracy. 
Hence  he  was  not  destitute  of  the  faculty  of 
analyzing  his  acts  in  the  light  of  their  moral 
quality,  and,  when  his  sober  judgment  enabled 
him  to  see  them  in  their  true  bearing,  he  ex- 
hibited a  due  contrition. 

On  Branwell's  visits  home,  he  learned  much 
of  the  exertions,  the  projects,  and  the  resolves  of 
his  sisters.  He  was  aware  of  their  aims,  and 
how  important  were  the  steps  being  taken  to 
qualify  them  the  better  for  teaching  others, 
more  especially  in  perfecting  their  knowledge 
of  the  French  language  and  of  music.  He 
also  knew  of  the  ultimate  hope  of  his  sisters — 
that,  were  the  future  secure,  they  would  have 
leisure  to  realize  their  early  dream  of  one  day 
becoming  authors,  never  relinquished,  even  when 
distance  divided,  and  when  absorbing  tasks  oc- 
cupied them.  He  had  the  highest  appreciation 
of  their  genius  ;  and,  although  he  had  his  times 
of  hilarity,  indulgence,  and  enjoyment,  he  was 
certainly  never  forgetful  of  his  own  hopes  and 
aspirations  in  the  same  direction. 



Situation  of  Luddenden  Foot — Branwell  visits  Manchester 
— The  Sultry  Summer — He  visits  the  Picturesque 
Places  adjacent — His  impromptu  Verses  to  Mr.  Grun- 
dy — He  leaves  the  Railway  Company — Miss  Robin- 
son's unjust  Comments — His  three  Sonnets — His  poem 
'  The  Afghan  War  ' — BramvelFs  letter  to  Mr.  Grundy 
— His  Self -depreciation. 

LUDDEXDEN  FOOT — the  second  place  of  Bran- 
well  Bronte's  appointment  as  clerk  in  charge  on 
the  Leeds  and  Manchester  Railway — was  a 
village  about  equi-distant  between  Sowerby 
Bridge  and  Mytholmroyd,  situated  in  a  fertile 
and  moderately-wooded  valley,  on  the  left  bank 
of  the  Calder  as  it  descends  from  its  source  in 
Cliviger  Dean.  The  cultivated  hills  rise  to  a 
considerable  height  on  both  sides  of  the  river, 


and  are  very  romantic  in  character.  Among 
the  manufacturers  and  gentry  of  the  neighbour- 
hood, Branwell  found  few  to  welcome  him,  and 
from  these  he  turned  to  the  artists  and  literary 
men  he  had  previously  known  at  Halifax. 

But  Branwell,  in  addition,  made  excursions 

up  the  valley  (Mr.  W ,  his  fellow-assistant,. 

acting  for  him  in  his  absence)  in  the  direction 
of  Hebden  Bridge,  Heptonstall,  the  Ridge,  Tod- 
morden,  and  the  heights  of  Wads  worth.  There 
were,  indeed,  many  places  of  marvellous  beauty 
and  interest  near,  that  have  long  been  the  theme 
of  artists  and  poets,  with  which  he  did  not  fail 
to  make  himself  acquainted. 

The  huge,  rounded-  hills,  which  border  this 
valley,  are  intersected  in  places  by  lovely  cloughs 
and  glens,  whose  peat-stained  streams  rush  over 
their  rocky  beds,  from  the  elevated  grouse-moors 
around,  to  pour  their  waters  into  the  Calder. 
From  Luddenden  Dean,  between  the  townships 
of  Warley  and  Midgley,  a  brook  makes  its  way 
to  Luddeuden  Foot,  through  a  glen  on  whose 
verdant  slopes  stand  several  ancient  houses  of 
architectural  and  historic  interest.  Among  these 
are  Ewood  Hall,  where  Bishop  Farrer  was  born, 


and  Kershaw  House,  a  beautiful  Jacobean  man- 
sion. Crag  Valley,  which  descends  to  the 
Calder  on  the  opposite  bank,  a  mile  or  more 
from  Luddenden  Foot,  is  deeper  and  more 
thickly  wooded.  On  one  hand  lies  Sowerby — 
with  Haugh  End,  the  birthplace  of  Archbishop 
Tillotson — and,  on  the  other,  Erringden,  which 
was  a  royal  deer-park  in  the  days  of  the 
Plantagenets.  But  the  loveliest  of  the  valleys 
through  which  the  confluent  streams  of  the 
Calder  run,  is  that  of  Hebden,  a  romantic  glen, 
winding  between  the  wooded  and  precipitous 
slopes  of  Heptonstall — crowned  with  the  ancient 
and  now  ruined  church  of  St.  Thomas  a  Becket 
— and  of  Wadsworth,  with  its  narrow  dell  of 
Crimsworth,  which  gave  Charlotte  Bronte  a 
name  for  the  hero  of  the  earliest  of  her  novels. 
Between  these  solemn  heights  the  stream  flows 
beneath  the  huge  crags  of  Hardcastle,  and  roars 
over  many  a  rocky  obstruction  in  its  channel 
before  it  reaches  the  Calder  at  Hebden  Bridge. 
This  was  a  district  to  which  picnic-parties 
from  Haworth  often  came,  there  being  a  direct 
road  over  the  hills. 

Branwell  also  visited  Manchester  on  one  occa- 
VOL.  I.  U 


sion  ;  and,  on  his  return,  he  gave  an  account  to  a 
young  clergyman,  then  living  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Mytholmroyd,  who  sometimes  went  to 
his  wooden  shanty  at  Luddenden  Foot  to  hear 
his  conversation,  of  how  he  had  been  impressed 
with  the  architecture  of  the  parish  church  at 
Manchester,  as  he  stood  under  the  arched 
portal,  and  beheld  the  long  'lines  of  pillars  and 
arches,  and  the  fretted  roof,  the  lightsome 
details  of  which  had  charmed  him.  He  went 
forward  on  that  occasion  to  the  choir  of  the 
church,  and  saw  the  Lady  Chapel — which  still 
retained  its  beautiful  screen,  with  its  Perpen- 
dicular tracery  and  shafts  of  that  period — 
occupied  by  -  the  gravedigger's  implements, 
which  reminded  him  of  the  '  Worshipful  Master 
of  the  Lodge  of  the  Three  Graces,'  consisting 
of  crowbar,  mattock,  spade,  barrow,  planks 
and  ropes ;  for  the  Lady  Chapel  had  been 
made  a  convenient  receptacle  for  these  dismal 

The  summer  of  1841  was  a  somewhat  mono- 
tonous time  for  Branwell  and  his  friend  at  the 
quiet  station.  Here,  in  the  intervals  of  the 
trains,  scarcely  anything  was  heard  except  the 


occasional  hum  of  a  bee  or  a  wasp,  or  the 
drone  of  a  blue-bottle,  while  the  almost  vertical 
rays  of  a  summer  sun  darted  down  on  the  roof 
of  the  wooden  hut,  and  made  the  place  unen- 
durable. It  was  in  moments  of  weary  lassitude, 
or  in  hours  of  drowsy  leisure,  that  Branwell 
whiled  away  the  time  by  sketching  carelessly 
on  the  margins  of  the  books — for  the  amusement 
of  himself  and  his  friend — free-hand  portraits 
of  characters  of  the  neighbourhood,  and  of  the 
celebrated  pugilists  of  the  day. 

But  about  Hebden  Bridge  there  were  people 
known  to  Branwell,  and  he  did  not  fail  to  visit 
them.  His  sister,  Charlotte,  in  after  years,  some- 
times came  to  Hanging  Royd,  Hebden  Bridge, 
the  house  of  my  late  friend,  the  Rev.  Sutcliffe 
Sowden,  then  incumbent  of  Mytholm — the 
gentleman  who  afterwards  performed  the  mar- 
riage ceremony  between  the  gifted  lady  and 
Mr.  Nicholls.  The  friendship  of  the  latter  and 
Mr.  Sowden  dated  from  earlier  years,  and  to 
them  Branwell  was  known  when  he  was  at 
Luddenden  Foot.  He  had,  indeed,  sometimes 
clerical  visitors  at  his  '  wooden  shanty '  to  hear 
his  conversation.  Mr.  Sowden  was  an  enthu- 



siastic  lover  of  scenery,  and  the  sphere  of  his 
duties  abounded  in  moors,  wilds,  crags,  rivers, 
brooks,  and  dells,  which  he  often  visited.  Bran- 
well's  tastes  accorded  with  his,  but  these  attrac- 
tions clearly  drew  Branwell's  attention,  too 
often  and  too  far,  from  the  imperative  duties  of 
his  situation,  comparatively  light  though  they 
were.  As  might  be  expected,  therefore,  the 
work  of  this  talented  but  changeful  young  man 
was  found  unsatisfactory,  and  explanations  were 
demanded.  About  the  time  of  the  close  of  his 
twelve  months'  official  duties  at  Luddenden 
Foot,  an  examination  of  his  books  was  made, 
and  they  were  found  to  be  confused  and  incom- 
plete. The  irregularity  and  the  defects  of  his 
returns  had  also  been  remarked,  and  an  inquiry 
was  set  on  foot  respecting  them.  The  officials, 
in  looking  over  the  books,  discovered  the  pen- 
and-ink  sketches  on  the  margins  of  the  pages, 
which  I  have  already  mentioned;  and  these 
were  taken  as  conclusive  evidence  of  careless- 
ness and  indifference  on  the  part  of  the  unfor- 
tunate Branwell  in  the  performance  of  his  duties 
and  the  keeping  of  his  accounts. 

He   had   been  made   aware,   by  unwelcome 


inquiries  and  remonstrances,  that  his  position 
with  the  railway  company  was  precarious,  and 
he  was  filled  with  apprehension  as  to  the  ulti- 
mate consequences.  He  was  requested  finally 
to  appear  at  the  audit  of  the  company,  and  his 
friend  \Y — —  accompanied  him. 

It  was  at  the  Christmas  of  3841,  thnt  the 
Brontes  expected  to  meet  at  home  together,  in 
anticipation  of  Charlotte  and  Emily's  journey  to 
Brussels;  but  Charlotte  had  not  found  her 
brother  there  in  the  January  of  1842,  for  she 
writes  on  the  20th  of.  that  month  and  year  : 
•*  I  have  been  every  week,  since  I  came  home, 
expecting  to  see  Branwell,  and  he  has  never 
been  able  to  get  over  yet.  We  fully  expect 
him,  however,  next  Saturday.'1  Branwell  cer- 
tainly returned  home,  but  only  when  it  had  been 
intimated  to  him  that  his  services  were  no 
longer  required  by  the  railway  company.  How 
far  he  had  felt  the  duties  of  his  post  irksome, 
and  the  power  of  perseverance  required  incon- 
sistent with  his  tastes  and  pursuits,  does  not 
appear,  though  the  inference  that  they  were  so 
will  scarcely  be  doubted.  But  the  humiliation 
1  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  x. 


and  sorrow  lie  felt  on  the  loss  of  his  employ- 
ment plunged  him,  for  a  time,  into  despair ;  and 
the  natural  gloom  of  his  disposition,  caused  him 
to  magnify  the  common  pleasures  and  enjoy- 
ments of  his  leisure  hours  into  crimes  and  omis- 
sions of  duty  of  no  ordinary  magnitude.  But 
the  erroneous  recollections  of  Mr.  Grundy,  re- 
specting the  situation  of  the  station  at  Lud- 
denden  Foot,  and  its  supposed  deleterious 
influence  on  Branw ell's  manners  and  obliga- 
tions, may  justify  a  doubt  as  to  the  particu- 
lar accuracy  of  many  of  his  reminiscences  of  his 

The  folio  wing  incident  of  Branw  ell's  stay  at  that 
place,  which  Mr.  Grundy  gives,  maybe  regarded 
as  affording  a  valuable  contribution  to  his  writ- 
ings ;  for,  although  impromptu,  the  verses  show 
that  he  could,  .even  on  unexpected  occasions,, 
bring  into  play  his  innate  faculty  of  verse  with 
no  mean  grasp  of  his  subject,  and  a  certain 
harmony  of  rhythmical  expression. 

Mr.  Grundy  says,  '  On  one  occasion  he 
(Branwell)  thought  I  was  disposed  to  treat  him 
distantly  at  a  party,  and  he  retired  in  great 
dudgeon.  When  I  arrived  at  my  lodgings  the 


same  evening,  I  found  the  following,  necessarily 
an  impromptu : — 

'  "The  man  who  will  not  know  another, 
Whose  heart  can  never  sympathize, 

Who  loves  not  comrade,  friend,  or  brother, 
Unhonoured  lives — unnoticed  dies  : 

His  frozen  eye,  his  bloodless  heart, 

Nature,  repugnant,  bids  depart. 

'  "  O,  Grundy  !  born  for  nobler  aim, 
Be  thine  the  task  to  shun  such  shame  ; 
And  henceforth  never  think  that  he 
AVho  gives  his  hand  in  courtesy 
To  one  who  kindly  feels  to  him, 
His  gentle  birth  or  name  can  dim. 

'  "  However  mean  a  man  may  be, 
Know  man  is  man  as  well  as  thee  ; 
However  high  thy  gentle  line, 
Know  he  who  writes  can  rank  with  thine  ; 
And  though  his  frame  be  worn  and  dead, 
Some  light  still  glitters  round  his  head. 

'  "  Yes !  though  his  tottering  limbs  seem  old, 
His  heart  and  blood  are  not  yet  cold. 
Ah,  Grundy  !  shun  his  evil  ways, 
His  restless  nights,  his  troubled  days  ; 
But  never  slight  his  mind,  which  flies, 
Instinct  with  noble  sympathies, 
Afar  from  spleen  and  treachery, 
To  thought,  to  kindness,  and  to  thee. 

"•P.  B.  BUOXTE." '» 

1  '  Pictures  of  the  Past,'  pp.  78—79. 


Brauwell's  extreme  sensibility  caused  him, 
indeed,  to  exaggerate  both,  the  lights  and  the 
shadows  of  his  existence.  He  was  gleeful,  as  I 
found,  full  of  fun,  jest,  and  anecdote,  in  social 
circles,  or  where  literature  and  art  were  the 
theme ;  and  then,  almost  involuntarily,  would 
rise  to  his  feet,  and,  with  a  beaming  counten- 
ance, treat  the  subject  with  a  vivid  flow  of 
imagination,  displaying  the  rich  stores  of  his 
information  with  wondrous  and  enthralling 
eloquence.  But,  under  disappointment  or  mis- 
fortune, he  fell  a  prey  to  gloomy  thoughts,  and 
reached  a  state  often  near  akin  to  despair.  It 
was  at  such  moments  that  he  usually  took  up 
his  pen  to  express,  in  poetry,  the  fulness  of  his 
feelings  and  the  depth  of  his  sorrow ;  and  it  is 
to  this  fact  that  the  pathetic  sadness  of  most  of 
his  writings  is  due.  I  have  had  occasion  already 
to  speak  of  the  melancholy  tone  which  charac- 
terized also  the  minds  of  his  sisters. 

The  worth  of  Branwell's  poetic  genius  about 
this  time, — the  year  of  1842, — has  been  unfairly 
commented  upon.  Miss  Robinson,  questioning 
the  judgment  of  the  Bronte  sisters,  undertakes 
to  doubt  if  Branwell's  mental  gifts  were  any 


better  than  his  moral  qualities,  and  says :  '  It  is 
doubtful,  judging  from  Branwell's  letters  and 
his  verses,  whether  anything  much  better  than 
his  father's  "  Cottage  in  the  Wood  "  would  have 
resulted  from  his  following  the  advice  of  James 
Montgomery.  Fluent  ease,  often  on  the  verge 
of  twaddle,  with  here  and  there  a  bright  felicitous 
touch,  with, here  and  there  a  smack  of  the  con- 
ventional hymn-book  and  pulpit  twang — such 
weak  and  characterless  effusions  are  all  that 
is  left  of  the  passion-ridden  pseudo-genius  of 
Ilaworth.' l 

Miss  Robinson's  ignorance  of  Bran  well's  more 
matured  poems  and  writings  has  caused  her,  in 
company  with  others,  to  fall  into  very  grave 
eiTors  regarding  him;  and  she, — with  extreme 
bitterness,  it  must  be  said, — has  embellished  her 
biography  of  Emily  with  elaborate  censures 
of  his  misdeeds,  and  with  accounts  of  his  im- 
puted glaring  inferiority  to  his  sisters  in  intel- 
lectual power.  It  is  pitiable,  indeed,  that  Miss 
Robinson, — and  not  she  alone, — in  the  want  of 
Bran  well's  true  life  and  remains,  with  nothing 
to  set  against  the  primary  errors  of  Mrs.  Gaskell, 
'  '  Emily  Bronte,'  p.  97. 


— should  have  joined  the  hue  and  cry  against 
him,  and  have  essayed,  almost  as  of  set  purpose, 
to  write  down  the  gifted  brother  of  the  author 
whose  life  she  was  giving  to  the  world. 

In  1842  Branwell   began  to   feel  more  per- 
ceptibly the    development   of   his    intellectual 
powers,  and  to  discern  more  clearly  his  natural 
ability  to  define,  in  poetic  and  felicitous  language, 
his   thoughts,    feelings,   and   emotions.     While 
under  the  depression  and  gloom  consequent  upon 
his  disgrace,  and  the  recent  loss  of  his  employ- 
ment, he  wrote  the  three  following  sonnets.  The 
profound  depth  of  feeling,  expressed  with  mourn- 
ful voice,  which  pervades  them,  the  full  con- 
sciousness of  woe  by  which  they  are  informed, 
leave  nothing  wanting  in   their   expression  of 
pathetic  beauty ;  and  they  are  distinguished  by 
much    sweetness    of    diction.      These    sonnets 
favourably  show  the  poetical  genius  of  Branwell. 
His  soul  is  carried  beyond  his  frail  mortality;, 
but  sadness  and  sorrow,  enshrouding  his  imagi- 
nation, bind  it  to  the   precincts  of  the   tomb. 
Here,  with  pessimistic  and  gloomy  philosophy, 
he  bids  us,  impressed  Avith  the  slender  sum  of 
human    happiness,  to    recognize    the   constant 


recurrence  of  the  misery  to  which  we  are  born, 
and  to  discern  how  little  there  is  beneficent  in 
nature  or  mankind. 


'  The  Shepherd's  Chief  Mourner ' — A  Dog  Keeping  Watch  at 
Twilight  over  its  Master's  Grave. 

The  beams  of  Fame  dry  up  affection's  tears ; 

And  those  who  rise  forget  from  Avhom  they  spring  ; 

Wealth's  golden  glories — pleasure's  glittering  wing — 
All  that  we  follow  through  our  chase  of  years — 
All  that  our  hope  seeks — all  our  caution  fears, 

Dim  or  destroy  those  holy  thoughts  which  cling 

Round  where  the  forms  we  loved  lie  slumbering  ; 
But,  not  with  thee — our  slave — whose  joys  and  cares 

We  deem  so  grovelling — power  nor  pride  are  thine, 
Nor  our  pursuits,  nor  ties  ;  yet,  o'er  this  grave, 
Where  lately  crowds  the  form  of  mourning  gave, 

I  only  hear  thy  low  heart-broken  whine — 

I  only  see  thee  left  long  hours  to  pine 
For  Am  whom  thou — if  love  had  power — would'st  save ! 


Why  hold  young  eyes  the  fullest  fount  of  tears "? 
And  why  do  youthful  hearts  the  oftenest  sigh, 
When  fancied  friends  forsake,  or  lovers  fly, 

Or  fancied  woes  and  dangers  wake  their  fears  ? 


All !  he  who  asks  has  known  but  spring-tide  years, 

Or  Time's  rough  voice  had  long  since  told  him  why! 

Increase  of  days  increases  misery  ; 
And  misery  brings  selfishness,  which  sears 

The  heart's  first  feelings :   'mid  the  battle's  roar, 
In  Death's  dread  grasp,  the  soldier's  eyes  are  blind 

To  comrades  dying,  and  he  whose  hopes  are  o'er 
Turns  coldest  from  the  sufferings  of  mankind ; 

A  bleeding  spirit  oft  delights  in  gore  : 
A  tortured  heart  oft  makes  a  tyrant  mind. 


Why  dost  thou  sorrow  for  the  happy  dead  ? 

For,  if  their  life  be  lost,  their  toils  are  o'er, 

And  woe  and  want  can  trouble  them  no  more ; 
Nor  ever  slept  they  in  an  earthly  bed 
So  sound  as  now  they  sleep,  while  dreamless  laid 

In  the  dark  chambers  of  the  unknown  shore, 

Where  Night  and  Silence  guard  each  sealed  door. 
So,  turn  from  such  as  these  thy  drooping  head, 

And  mourn  the  Dead  Alive — whose  spirit  flies — 
Whose  life  departs,  before  his  death  has  come ; 

Who  knows  no  Heaven  beneath  Life's  gloomy  skies, 
Who  sees  no  Hope  to  brighten  up  that  gloom,  — 

'Tis  lie  who  feels  the  worm  that  never  dies, — 
The  real  death  and  darkness  of  the  tomb. 

It  is  painful  to  find  the  writer  of  these  sad 
beautiful   sonnets  spoken   of  in   terms  of 


reprobation,  as  being,  at  the  time  he  wrote 
them,  and  when  asking  Mr.  Grundy's  aid  while 
seeking  a  situation,  '  sunk  and  contemptible.' 

*  Alas,'  says  Miss  Robinson,  '  no  helping  hand 
rescued  the  sinking  wretch  from  the  quicksands 
of  idle  sensuality  Avhich  slowly  engulfed  him  I'1 
Let  us  look  further. 

The  Afghan  "War,  which  commenced  in  1838, 
and  had  secured  for  the  English  arms  what 
seemed  at  the  time  a  complete  conquest,  was 
followed  by  the  conspiracy  of  Akbar  Khan,  the 
sou  of  Dost  Mohammed,  which  occurred  at  the 
beginning  of  winter,  when  help  from  India  was 
hopeless.  There  was  an  uprising  at  Cabul, 
and  several  officers  and  men  were  slain,  which 
compelled  Major  Pottinger  to  submit  to  humili- 
ating conditions.  The  British  left  Cabul;  and 
the  disastrous  retreat  to  India,  through  the 
Khyber  Pass,  which  commenced  on  January 
6th,  1842,  will  long  be  sadly  remembered. 
Of  sixteen  thousand  troops — accompanied  by 
women  and  children  to  the  number  of  ten 
thousand  more — who  were  continually  harassed 
by  hostile  tribes  on  the  way,  and  benumbed  by 
1 '  Emily  Bronte,'  p.  99. 


the  severity  of  the  winter,onlyoiie  mart,  Doctor  Bry- 
Jon,  survived  to  tell  the  tidings.  Branwell,  over- 
whelmed by  these  horrors,  published  the  folio  wing 
powerful  and  impressive  poem  in  the  '  Leeds  In- 
telligencer,' on  May  the  7th  of  the  same  year. 


'  Winds  within  our  chimney  thunder, 

Rain-showers  shake  each  window-pane, 
Still — if  nought  our  household  sunder — 

We  can  smile  at  wind  or  rain. 
Sickness  shades  a  loved  one's  chamber, 

Steps  glide  gently  to  and  fro, 
Still — 'mid  woe — our  hearts  remember 
We  are  there  to  soothe  that  woe. 

x  Comes  at  last  the  hour  of  mourning, 

Solemn  tolls  the  funeral  bell ; 
And  we  feel  that  no  returning 

Fate  allows  to  such  farewell : 
Still  a  holy  hope  shines  o'er  us ; 

We  wept  by  the  One  who  died  ; 
And  'neath  earth  shall  death  restore  us  ; 
As  round  hearthstone — side  by  side. 

*  But — when  all  at  eve,  together, 

Circle  round  the  flickering  light, 
While  December's  howling  weather 
Ushers  in  a  stormy  night : 


When  each  ear,  scarce  conscious,  listens 

To  the  outside  Winter's  war, 
When  each  trembling  eyelash  glistens 

As  each  thinks  of  one  afar — 

*  Man  to  chilly  silence  dying, 

Ceases  story,  song,  and  smile  ; 
Thought  asks — "  Is  the  loved  one  lying 

Cold  upon  some  storm-beat  isle  ?" 
And  with  death — when  doubtings  vanish, 

When  despair  still  hopes  and  fears — 
Though  our  anguish  toil  may  banish, 

Rest  brings  unavailing  tears. 

4  So,  Old  England — when  the  warning 

Of  thy  funeral  bells  I  hear — 
Though  thy  dead  a  host  is  mourning, 

Friends  and  kindred  watch  each  bier. 
But  alas !  Atlantic  waters 

Bear  another  sound  from  far  ! 
Unknown  woes,  uncounted  slaughters, 

Cruel  deaths,  inglorious  war ! 

4  Breasts  and  banners,  crushed  and  gory, 

That  seemed  once  invincible  ; 
England's  children — England's  glory, 

Moslem  sabres  smite  and  quell ! 
Far  away  their  bones  are  wasting, 

But  I  hear  their  spirits  call — 
"  Is  our  Mighty  Mother  hasting 
To  avenge  her  children's  fall*?" 


'  England  rise  !  Thine  ancient  thunder 

Humbled  mightier  foes  than  these  ; 
Broke  a  whole  world's  bonds  asunder, 

Gave  thee  empire  o'er  the  seas  : 
And  while  yet  one  rose  may  blossom, 

Emblem  of  thy  former  bloom, 
Let  not  age  invade  thy  bosom — 

Brightest  shine  in  darkest  gloom  ! 

'  While  one  oak  thy.  homes  shall  shadow, 

Stand  like  it  as  thou  hast  stood  ; 
"While  a  Spring  greets  grove  and  meadow, 

Let  not  Winter  freeze  thy  blood. 
Till  this  hour  St.  George's  standard 

Led  the  advancing  march  of  time ; 
England  !  keep  it  streaming  vanward, 

Conqueror  over  age  and  clime !' 

In  this  poem  Branwell  prefaces  his  subject 
with  a  picture  of  domestic  suffering — one  with 
which  he  is  familiar — and  compares  the  con- 
solation which  accompanies  the  affectionate 
attentions  of  those  present,  with  the  hopeless 
fate  and  untended  deaths  of  such  as  perish  in 
the  storms  and  wars  of  distant  places,  far  away 
from  their  homes  and  fiiends.  In  the  true,  loyal, 
and  national  spirit  which  animates  him,  his 
manly  appeal  to  England,  comprised  principally 


in  the  last  two  verses,  is  perhaps  one  of  the 
noblest  and  most  vigorous  ever  written. 

In  the  May  of  18 12,  Leyland  was  commissioned 
to  execute  certain  monuments  for  Haworth  and 
its  neighbourhood ;  and,  on  the  15th  of  that 
month,  Branwell  wrote  to  him,  in  reference 
to  a  design  for  a  monument  which  he  had  sent 
for  submission  to  a  committee  of  which  the 
Ilev.  P.  Bronte  was  chairman,  and  invited  him 
to  the  parsonage  on  the  20th  of  the  month,  being 
sure  his  father  would  be  pleased  to  see  him. 
Leyland  visited  Haworth  and  partook  of  Mr. 
Bronte's  hospitality;  and  in  the  evening,  accom- 
panied by  the  incumbent  and  his  son,  appeared 
before  the  monument  committee. 

Branwell  also  wrote  an  interesting  letter  to 
Mr.  Grundy  on  May  22nd,  1842,  which  that  gen- 
tleman erroneously  assigns  to  1845.1  In  it  he 
says  that  he  cannot  avoid  the  temptation, 
while  sitting  alone,  all  the  household  being  at 
church,  and  he  being  the  sole  occupant  of  the 
parsonage,  to  scribble  a  few  lines  to  cheer  his 
spirits.  He  alludes  to  the  extreme  pain,  illness, 

1  '  Pictures  of  the  Past,'  p.  84. 
VOL.  I.  X 


and  mental  depression  he  has  endured  since- 
his  dismissal.  He  describes  himself,  while  at 
Luddenden  Foot,  as  a  '  miserable  wreck,'  as 
requiring  six  glasses  of  whisky  to  stimulate 
him,  as  almost  insane !  And  he  feels  his  re- 
covery from  this  last  stage  of  his  condition  to 
be  retarded  by  'having  nothing  to  listen  to 
except  the  wind  moaning  among  old  chimneys 
and  older  ash  trees, — nothing  to  look  at  except 
heathery  hills,  walked  over  when  life  had  all  to 
hope  for,  and  nothing  to  regret.'  He  reproaches 
himself,  in  bitter  terms,  with  seeking  indulgence, 
while  at  Luddenden  Foot,  in  failings  which 
formed,  he  declares,  the  black  spot  on  his  char- 
acter. His  sister  Charlotte's  mind  appears  to 
have  been  cast  in  the  same  gloomy  mould  ;  for, 
when  suffering  under  bodily  ailment,  or  the  de- 
spondency and  hopelessness  which  overshadow- 
ed her  soul,  she  was  impelled,  as  we  have  seen, 
to  make  confessions  to  her  friend  'E'  of  her 
*  stings  of  conscience,'  her  '  visitings  of  remorse.' 
She  hates  her {  former  flippancy  and  forward- 
ness.' She  is  in  a  state  of  '  horrid,  gloomy 
uncertainty,'  and  clouds  are  '  gathering  darker/ 


and  a  more  depressing  despondency  weighs 
•upon  her  spirits.1 

In  another  letter  to  her  friend,  Charlotte 
says  she  is  'in  a  strange  state  of  mind — 
still  gloomy,  but  not  despairing.  I  keep  trying 
to  do  right  ....  I  abhor  myself,  I  despise  my- 
self.' And  again,  later,  she  wonders  if  the 
new  year  will  be  '  stained  as  darkly  as  the  last 
with  all  our  sins,  follies,  secret  vanities,  and 
uncontrolled  passions  and  propensities,'  saying 
*  I  trust  not ;  but  I  feel  in  nothing  better,  neither 
humbler  nor  purer.'2 

Branwell,  however,  while  making,  in  a  like 
tone,  his  unnecessarily  exaggerated  confession 
to  his  friend,  sets  forth  his  renovation  of  soul 
and  body.  He  has,  at  length,  acquired  health, 
strength,  and  soundness  of  mind  far  superior  to 
anything  he  had  known  at  Luddenden  Foot. 
He  can  speak  cheerfully,  and  enjoy  the  com- 
pany of  another,  without  his  former  stimulus. 
He  can  write,  think,  and  act,  with  some  appar- 

1  Gaskell's  '  Life  of  Charlotte  Bronte,'  chap.  viii. 
2  '  Unpublished  letters  of  Charlotte  Brontci,'  Hourn  at 
Home,  vol.  xi. 



ent  approach  to  resolution,  and  he  only  wants 
a  motive  for  exertion  to  be  happier  than  he  has 
been  for  years.  He  has  still  something  left  in 
him  which  might  do  him  service.  He  thinks  he 
ought  not  to  live  too  long  in  solitude,  as  the 
world  soon  forgets  those  who  wish  it  '  Good- 
bye.' Then,  although  ashamed  of  it,  he  ask» 
for  answers  to  some  inquiries  he  had  made  about 
obtaining  a  new  situation,  evidently  thinking 
Mr.  Grundy's  influence  of  importance  in  the 

This  letter  must  receive  a  passing  notice. 
It  shows  Bran  well's  mind  vigorous  and  healthy, 
although  it  had  been  disordered  by  physical 
illness  accompanied  by  brooding  melancholy. 
His  picture  of  the  lonely  parsonage  and  the 
solitude  of  the  surrounding  country,  combined 
with  the  expression  of  his  own  sad  emotions,  is 
graphic  enough.  His  sisters  wrote  with  the 
same  power  and  the  same  artistic  feeling.  The 
occasion  of  his  writing  this  letter  to  Mr.  Grundy 
was  his  wish  to  obtain  some  employment  in  con- 
nection with  the  railway,  and  he  made  this 
overdrawn  confession  of  his  habits  and  indul- 
gences when  at  Luddenden  Foot,  and  contrast- 


ed  them  with  the  great  mental,  moral,  and  bodily 
improvement  he  had  acquired  since  he  left.  It 
was  his  hope  that  by  this  contrast  he  might 
make  a  favourable  impression,  and  that  Mr. 
Gruudy's  position  with  the  Messrs.  Stephenson 
might  be  a  means  of  helping  him  to  some  em- 
ployment suited  to  his  tastes  and  abilities.  But 
Mr.  Grundy  could  not  aid  him  in  this  object, 
which  he  pursued  with  all  the  feverish  eagerness 
of  his  urgent  and  impetuous  nature.  With 
great  vigour  of  expression  he  declares,  '  I  would 
rather  give  my  hand  than  undergo  again  the 
grovelling  carelessness,  the  malignant  yet  cold 
debauchery,  the  determination  to  find  how  far 
mind  could  carry  body  without  both  being 
chucked  into  hell.' 

But  Branwell,  at  the  time  of  which  I  speak, 
was  full  of  energy  and  industry;  indeed,  he 
could  not  be  idle.  He  wrote  another  letter  in 
reply  to  one  he  had  received  from  Mr.  Gruudy, 
dated  June  the  9th,  1842.  From  this  we  learn 
that  his  friend  had  either  not  entertained  his 
applications,  or  was  unable  to  further  his  inter- 
ests in  the  quarter  from  which  employment 
could  come,  for  he  had  given  discouraging 


answers.  Bramvell  felt  the  disappointment 
keenly,  but  says  that  it  was  allayed  by  Mr. 
Grundy's  kind  and  considerate  tone.  His  friend 
had  asked  why  he  did  not  turn  his  attention 
elsewhere.  To  this  Bran  well  replies  that  most 
of  his  relations  [  are  clergymen,  and  others  of 
them,  by  a  private  life,  removed  from  the  busy 
world.  As  for  the  church,  he  declares  he  has  not 
one  mental  qualification,  '  save,  perhaps,  hypo- 
crisy,' which  might  make  him  '  cut  a  figure  in  its 
pulpits.'  He  informs  Mr.  Gruncly  that  Mr.  James 
Montgomery  and  another  literary  gentleman, 
who  had  lately  seen  something  of  his  work, 
wished  him  to  turn  his  attention  to  literature. 
He  declares  that  he  has  little  conceit  of  himself, 
but  that  he  has  a  great  desire  for  activity.  He 
is  somewhat  changed,  yet,  although  not  possessed 
of  the  buoyant  spirits  of  his  friend,  he  might,  in 
dress  and  appearance,  emulate  something  like 
ordinary  decency. 

In  Leyland's  art  commissions  at  Haworth, 
Branwell  took  great  interest,  and  in  his  corre- 
spondence considerable  activity  and  industry 
appear.  He  wrote,  on  June  the  29th,  1842,  to 
the  sculptor,  a  letter,  in  which  he  alludes  to  the 


conduct  of  some  gentlemen  of  the  committee  at 
1  la  worth,  who  had  acted  in  an  unfair  way  to  his 
friend  on  a  professional  matter.  He  says  : — 

'  I  have  not  often  felt  more  heartily  ashamed 
than  when  you  left  the  committee  at  Haworth  ; 
but  I  did  not  like  to  speak  on  the  subject  then, 
and  I  trusted  that  you  would  make  that  allow- 
ance, which  you  have  perhaps  often  ere  now  had 
to  do,  for  gothic  ignorance  and  ill  breeding; 
and  one  or  two  of  the  persons  present  after- 
wards felt  that  they  had  left  by  no  means  an 
enviable  impression  on  your  mind. 

'  Though  it  is  but  a  poor  compliment, — I  long 
much  to  see  you  again  at  Haworth,  and  forget 
for  half-a-day  the  amiable  society  in  which  I  am 
placed,  where  I  never  hear  a  word  more  musical 
than  an  ass's  bray.  When  you  come  over,  bring 
with  you  Mr.  Constable,  but  leave  behind  Father 
Matthew,  as  his  conversation  is  too  cold  and 
freezing  for  comfort  among  the  moors  of 

At  the  bottom  of  the  sheet  on  which  this 
letter  is  written,  Branwell  has  drawn  a  pen-and- 
ink  sketch  of  rare  merit.  The  weird  wraste, 
which  stretches  to  the  horizon,  may  represent 


well  the  lonely  wilds  of  Haworth,  overshadowed 
by  the  clouds  of  approaching  night,  and  inter- 
spersed with  streaks  of  fading  day,  among  which 
the  crescent  moon  appears.  In  the  foreground 
is  a  group  of  monuments,  one  a  tomb  sunk  on 
its  side ;  and,  of  the  head-stones,  one  is  inscribed 
with  the  word  *  Resurgam.'  Branwell  was  no  m  ean 
draughtsman,  and  that  his  hand  did  not  shake 
with  the  excesses  he  is  represented  to  have  gone 
through  at  this  period  of  his  life,  the  delicacy 
of  this  elaborate  drawing  is  sufficient  proof. 

Mr.  Constable,  mentioned  in  the  letter,  was  an 
acquaintance  of  the  sculptor,  a  gentleman  of 
considerable  ability  in  art  and  poetry.  The 
conviviality,  which  Branwell  did  not  consider 
altogether  a  dereliction  of  moral  duty,  led  him 
to  make  his  quiet  and  humorous  allusion  to 
Father  Matthew. 





Leyland,   Francis  A. 
The   Bronte  family